Rectal indomethacin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, is given to prevent pancreatitis in high-risk patients undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), based on findings from clinical trials. The European Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy guidelines recently recommended prophylactic rectal indomethacin for all patients undergoing ERCP, including those at average risk for pancreatitis. We performed a randomized controlled trail to investigate the efficacy of this approach.
We performed a prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 449 consecutive patients undergoing ERCP at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, from March 2013 through December 2014. Approximately 70% of the cohort were at average risk for PEP. Subjects were assigned randomly to groups given either a single 100-mg dose of rectal indomethacin (n = 223) or a placebo suppository (n = 226) during the procedure. The primary outcome was the development of post-ERCP pancreatitis (PEP), defined by new upper-abdominal pain, a lipase level more than 3-fold the upper limit of normal, and hospitalization after ERCP for 2 consecutive nights.
There were no differences between the groups in baseline clinical or procedural characteristics. Sixteen patients in the indomethacin group (7.2%) and 11 in the placebo group (4.9%) developed PEP (P = .33). Complications and the severity of PEP were similar between groups. Per a priori protocol guidelines, the study was stopped owing to futility.
In a randomized controlled study of consecutive patients undergoing ERCP, rectal indomethacin did not prevent post-ERCP pancreatitis. ClincialTrials.gov no: NCT01774604.