Clin Endosc > Volume 50(2); 2017 > Article
Shimamura, Mosko, Teshima, and May: Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Pancreatic Duct Intervention


Endoscopic ultrasound-guided pancreatic duct intervention (EUS-PDI) is an emerging endoscopic approach allowing access and intervention to the pancreatic duct (PD) for patients with failed endoscopic retrograde pancreatography (ERP) or patients with surgically altered anatomy. As opposed to biliary drainage for which percutaneous drainage is an alternative following failed endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), the treatment options after failed ERP are very limited. Therefore, endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)-guided access to the PD and options for subsequent drainage may play an important role as an alternative to surgical intervention. However, this approach is technically demanding with a high risk of complications, and should only be performed by highly experienced endoscopists. In this review, we describe an overview of the current endoscopic approaches, basic technical tips, and outcomes using these procedures.


Endoscopic retrograde pancreatography (ERP) is considered the first-line, standard treatment for treating main pancreatic duct (MPD) obstruction, stricture or disruption [1]. Although ERP is widely performed, it is an especially challenging procedure when the gastroduodenal anatomy has been surgically altered and the papilla is not easily accessible, or when advancement of the guidewire though the papilla or anastomosis is not possible [2]. These challenges are mainly faced in cases of failed cannulation due to high-grade stricture, inability to identify the pancreaticojejunostomy, and inability to reach the pancreaticojejunostomy. Endoscopic ultrasound-guided pancreatic duct intervention (EUS-PDI) is an emerging endoscopic approach allowing access and intervention to the MPD for patients with failed ERP or with surgically altered anatomy. The development of EUS-PDI plays an important role as an alternative to surgical intervention. On the other hand, this approach remains technically demanding with a high risk for complications, and so these procedures should only be performed by highly experienced endoscopists [3,4]. Proper patient selection is of utmost importance, and indication and relative contraindications must be carefully assessed (Table 1). There are multiple studies with small numbers of cases that have described this technique [5-17], however no large prospective, well-controlled studies have been performed. In this review, we describe an overview of the current endoscopic approaches, basic technical tips, and outcomes using these procedures.


EUS-PDI can be divided into two main approaches that are performed to achieve endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)-guided pancreatic duct (PD) drainage: EUS-guided antegrade drainage and EUS-guided rendezvous technique. When the papilla or anastomosis in surgically altered anatomy is not accessible, EUS-guided rendezvous approach is not applicable.

EUS-guided antegrade drainage

EUS-guided antegrade drainage is performed by accessing the MPD under EUS-guided puncture and creating a tract with subsequent antegrade placement of a stent across the pancreatic-gastric anastomosis, pancreatic-duodenal anastomosis, MPD stricture, papilla, or pancreatico-jejunal anastomosis (PJA) [5,6,9,15,18,19]. This approach can be subdivided into transluminal, transpapillary, or trans-anastomotic based on whether the stent traverses the site of ductal obstruction, papilla or anastomosis. Since an EUS-guided rendezvous technique is not feasible when the papilla or anastomosis cannot be accessed or passed with a wire, the antegrade approach is applied in such cases.

EUS-guided rendezvous technique

EUS-guided rendezvous achieves transpapillary or trans-anastomotic drainage using a rendezvous technique [7,20-26]. This is achieved by retrograde stent placement from the papilla or anastomosis into the MPD via another endoscope. This procedure requires access to the papilla or anastomosis that has been traversed with a guidewire. In cases with surgically altered anatomy, this often requires balloon-assisted enteroscopy.


First, the MPD is visualized and carefully assessed with a linear echoendoscope. A therapeutic channel echoendoscope is preferred to allow for broader usage of accessories and insertion of larger caliber stents. Under combined fluoroscopic and EUS guidance, access into the MPD through the stomach or duodenum is achieved using a 19-gauge or 22-gauge fine aspiration needle [12]. Then, under fluoroscopic guidance, a pancreatogram is performed and a guidewire can be passed into the MPD. An 0.035-inch or 0.025-inch guidewire can be passed through a 19-gauge needle while 22-gauge needles require 0.018-inch guidewires. From this point onward, the approach between antegrade drainage and the rendezvous technique differs. The rendezvous technique is performed after the guidewire is successfully advanced across the papilla or anastomosis and coiled in the small intestine. The echoendoscope is then removed leaving the guidewire in place. Depending on the anatomy, a standard therapeutic duodenoscope, colonoscope, or balloon-assisted enteroscope is then advanced to the papilla or the anastomosis, where the PD can be accessed with the guidance of the EUS placed wire to perform retrograde interventions.
For antegrade PD drainage, the echoendoscope is used throughout the procedure for placement of a stent into the MPD via the stomach or the duodenum. Once guidewire access is achieved into the MPD, dilation of the transmural tract is performed. This can be done using the sheath on the fine needle aspiration (FNA) needle, tapered catheters, or cautery-assisted devices such as a needle knife or small caliber ringed catheter. Once catheter access to the MPD is achieved, the tract can be dilated using hydrostatic balloons prior to stent placement.


Currently there are no standard strategies for performing EUS-PDI, however here are our tips to consider when performing this procedure [19,27-29].

Access point

There are no data comparing the stomach and duodenum as access sites. In most cases, the patient’s individual anatomy will dictate the approach. It is important to consider the distance between the EUS transducer and MPD, the presence of intervening vessels and the optimal angle between the needle and the MPD [8], although puncture through the antrum of the stomach may often prove more challenging due to the thicker muscle layer.

Needle size

Needle size can be 19-gauge or 22-gauge. 25-gauge needles are generally not used as there are no guidewires currently that can be passed through them. 19-gauge needles are more commonly used since this enables the use of 0.035 or 0.025-inch guidewires. Choosing sharp tip needles over curved needles is important.


Choice of guidewire depends on the caliber of the needle used for MPD access and intent of the procedure. We generally prefer a stiffer, hydrophilic wire such as a 0.025, 0.032, 0.035-inch angled or straight guidewire especially when there is a long distance between the stomach wall and the duct, fibrotic pancreatic parenchyma, or a non-dilated MPD. When rendezvous is being performed, 0.035-inch stiff guidewires are suitable and may facilitate passage of the wire across a stenotic anastomosis or papilla.

Tract dilators

Dilators with stiff, tapered tips or 6.5-french electrical cautery dilators are preferred. Tapered endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) cannulas, hydrostatic balloon catheters with ultra-tapered tips and bougie dilators with tapered tips are devices that can also be used. The use of diathermic catheters remains controversial since this may increase the risk of pancreatitis due to cautery effect.


Both straight, double pigtail plastic stents, or metallic stents can be used. Dedicated plastic stents for EUS-guided pancreatic drainage have been developed [30]. Fully-covered self-expanding metal stents (SEMS) are also reported to be effective in this setting [31]. Uncovered metal stents should be avoided as there is a risk of pancreatic juice leakage between the stomach and pancreas. Currently, there is no consensus on the most suitable stent and thus the choice of stent will depend on each patient’s anatomy.

Rendezvous technique

EUS-guided injection of the MPD with methylene blue and contrast through a needle may assist in identifying the papilla or anastomosis. If contrast passes into the intestine, traditional ERP can be performed [12,32]. If contrast does not pass, an EUS-guided antegrade approach should be attempted.


EUS-PDI is highly effective at achieving successful PD drainage but is associated with significant rates of complications. This procedure is technically demanding. Taking publication bias into account, actual success rates are likely lower than are reported. A limitation of this technique is that it has only been described in retrospective studies with small sample sizes. Although there are several studies reporting outcomes using EUS-PDI, overall the data are quite limited.
Fujii-Lau and Levy recently performed a systematic review of studies that focused only on EUS-guided PD access while excluding case reports [27]. They identified 222 patients who underwent EUS-PDI and demonstrated a 77% rate of technical success with a clinical success rate of 70% using either the antegrade or rendezvous technique. Complications developed in 19% of the patients, and included abdominal pain (7.7%), pancreatitis (3.1%), bleeding (1.8%), perforation (0.9%), peripancreatic abscess (0.9%), stripping of the guidewire coating (0.9%), and one patient each who developed fever, pneumoperitoneum, pseudocyst, pseudocyst with an aneurysm, and perigastric fluid collection (0.5%).
Recently, an international, multicenter, retrospective study on the safety and efficacy of EUS-PDI after failed ERP was published [33]. 80 patients who underwent EUS-PDI at 4 academic centers in 3 countries were analyzed. Technical success was achieved in 89% and clinical success in 81% of patients. The success rate in this study was higher than previously reported, which is likely due to increased operator experience and improvements in endoscopic equipment. The transpapillary or trans-anastomotic approaches to stent placement via rendezvous wire access seemed to be the more successful technique, with a trend toward an increased likelihood of complete symptom resolution after adjusting for sex, diagnosis, anatomy, prior failed ERP, and technical success, but that was not statistically significant. Immediate adverse events (AEs) (<24 hours) occurred in 20% of patients, with 15% experiencing major complications (6 patients with post-ERCP pancreatitis, 4 who developed pancreatic fluid collections, one with a MPD leak, and one with an intestinal perforation. Delayed AEs (>24 hours) occurred in 11% of patients (all of whom also had immediate AEs—2 pancreatitis, 1 MPD leak, and 4 abscesses treated with antibiotics). The method of approach (antegrade vs. rendezvous) was not a predictor of immediate or delayed AEs, however this could have been due to the small sample size [33].
While EUS-PDI has been shown to be effective, it appears to be limited by its high rates of complications. However there have been no comparative studies between EUS-PDI and standard ERP. A recent international, multicenter, retrospective study was performed to compare these 2 modalities in terms of technical success, clinical success, and AE rates in patients with post-Whipple anatomy. 66 patients underwent 75 procedures (40 EUS-PDI and 35 ERP). Technical success of EUS-PDI was 92.5% compared with 20% in the ERP group (odds ratio [OR], 49.3; p<0.001). Clinical success was achieved in 87.5% of EUS-PDI procedures compared with 23.1% in the ERP group (OR, 23.3; p<0.001). However, AEs occurred more commonly in the EUS-PDI group (35% vs. 2.9%, p<0.001). Procedure time and length of stay were not significantly different between the 2 groups. AEs included abdominal pain requiring hospitalization, intraabdominal abscesses and jejunal ulceration secondary to pancreatic stent placement [34]. Although there were no severe AEs with EUS-PDI in this study, the overall complication rate of 30% is very high. Even with the low technical success rates of 20%, ERP should remain a first-line treatment, even in patients with surgically altered anatomy, based on its superior safety profile. This is especially true considering the low case volume of EUS-PDI being performed, even at experienced, expert centers. It is also very important to emphasize that although this procedure may eventually become standard, improved accessories are needed. Finally, based on its technical difficulty and overall rarity, it is challenging to develop true expertise.
Potential contributing factors of treatment failure include small PD diameter, fibrotic pancreatic parenchyma, short length for guidewire insertion, lack of dedicated devices, lack of technical standard, and failure to navigate the guidewire through the site of obstruction, across the papilla or PJA [3,28]. Other factors that make this procedure challenging include difficulty maintaining the position of the echoendoscope along the axis of the MPD and the difficult angle at which the PD is accessed. Despite the theoretical concerns of puncturing a small caliber PD, it is only stent placement that appears to pose a challenge. In a multicenter, retrospective study, the method of approach (antegrade vs. retrograde) was not a predictor of technical success after controlling for prior failed ERP, altered anatomy, and diagnosis [33].
The lack of long-term clinical outcomes needs to be emphasized. It is difficult to determine the need for re-intervention and to predict long-term clinical outcomes after initial successful intervention. Will et al. reported that 29% of patients having EUS-PDI ultimately required surgical intervention during a follow-up period of 4 weeks to 3 years [10]. Stent dysfunction, including stent migration and occlusion, requiring multiple endoscopic interventions have been reported in up to half of the patients in several case series [9,13]. The use of double pigtail plastic stents with scheduled stent replacement may reduce the rate of stent dysfunction, especially in cases requiring prolonged stent duration.


Although the technical and clinical success rates of EUSPDI are improving, it remains a challenging procedure with a high risk of complication. More studies are needed to evaluate the safety, efficacy and long-term outcomes while we await improved and innovative devices. As opposed to biliary access where percutaneous drainage is an alternative for failed ERCP, treatment options after failed ERP are limited. Considering the major limitations in alternative treatment options after failed ERP, EUS-PDI has the potential to become standard-of-care by avoiding more invasive and involved surgical interventions.


Conflicts of Interest: The authors have no financial conflicts of interest.

Table 1.
Indications and Relative Contraindications to Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Pancreatic Duct Intervention
 1. Stenosis of the PJA with or without fistula
 2. MPD hypertension secondary to PD stricture or stones in the MPD, or IPMN
 3. MPD disruption
 4. Failed ERCP (Inaccessible and difficult to access the papilla or anastomosis)
Relative contraindications
 1. Unable to visualize PD on EUS
 2. Multifocal PD strictures
 3. Intervening vessels in the access route
 4. Thrombocytopenia (<50,000)
 5. Coagulopathy (international normalized ratio >1.5)
 6. Hemodynamic instability

PJA, pancreatico-jejunal anastomosis; MPD, main pancreatic duct; PD, pancreatic duct; IPMN, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasia; ERCP, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography; EUS, endoscopic ultrasound.


1. Dumonceau JM, Delhaye M, Tringali A, et al. Endoscopic treatment of chronic pancreatitis: European society of gastrointestinal endoscopy (ESGE) clinical guideline. Endoscopy 2012;44:784–800.
crossref pmid pdf
2. Chahal P, Baron TH, Topazian MD, Petersen BT, Levy MJ, Gostout CJ. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography in post-Whipple patients. Endoscopy 2006;38:1241–1245.
crossref pmid pdf
3. Devière J. EUS-guided pancreatic duct drainage: a rare indication in need of prospective evidence. Gastrointest Endosc 2017;85:178–180.
crossref pmid
4. Giovannini M. EUS-guided pancreatic duct drainage: ready for prime time? Gastrointest Endosc 2013;78:865–867.
crossref pmid
5. François E, Kahaleh M, Giovannini M, Matos C, Devière J. EUS-guided pancreaticogastrostomy. Gastrointest Endosc 2002;56:128–133.
crossref pmid
6. Kahaleh M, Yoshida C, Yeaton P. EUS antegrade pancreatography with gastropancreatic duct stent placement: review of two cases. Gastrointest Endosc 2003;58:919–923.
crossref pmid
7. Mallery S, Matlock J, Freeman ML. EUS-guided rendezvous drainage of obstructed biliary and pancreatic ducts: report of 6 cases. Gastrointest Endosc 2004;59:100–107.
crossref pmid
8. Kinney TP, Li R, Gupta K, et al. Therapeutic pancreatic endoscopy after Whipple resection requires rendezvous access. Endoscopy 2009;41:898–901.
crossref pmid
9. Tessier G, Bories E, Arvanitakis M, et al. EUS-guided pancreatogastrostomy and pancreatobulbostomy for the treatment of pain in patients with pancreatic ductal dilatation inaccessible for transpapillary endoscopic therapy. Gastrointest Endosc 2007;65:233–241.
crossref pmid
10. Will U, Fueldner F, Thieme AK, et al. Transgastric pancreatography and EUS-guided drainage of the pancreatic duct. J Hepatobiliary Pancreat Surg 2007;14:377–382.
crossref pmid
11. Brauer BC, Chen YK, Fukami N, Shah RJ. Single-operator EUS-guided cholangiopancreatography for difficult pancreaticobiliary access (with video). Gastrointest Endosc 2009;70:471–479.
crossref pmid
12. Barkay O, Sherman S, McHenry L, et al. Therapeutic EUS-assisted endoscopic retrograde pancreatography after failed pancreatic duct cannulation at ERCP. Gastrointest Endosc 2010;71:1166–1173.
crossref pmid
13. Ergun M, Aouattah T, Gillain C, Gigot JF, Hubert C, Deprez PH. Endoscopic ultrasound-guided transluminal drainage of pancreatic duct obstruction: long-term outcome. Endoscopy 2011;43:518–525.
crossref pmid pdf
14. Shah JN, Marson F, Weilert F, et al. Single-operator, single-session EUS-guided anterograde cholangiopancreatography in failed ERCP or inaccessible papilla. Gastrointest Endosc 2012;75:56–64.
crossref pmid
15. Fujii LL, Topazian MD, Abu Dayyeh BK, et al. EUS-guided pancreatic duct intervention: outcomes of a single tertiary-care referral center experience. Gastrointest Endosc 2013;78:854–864.e1.
crossref pmid
16. Kurihara T, Itoi T, Sofuni A, Itokawa F, Moriyasu F. Endoscopic ultrasonography-guided pancreatic duct drainage after failed endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography in patients with malignant and benign pancreatic duct obstructions. Dig Endosc 2013;25 Suppl 2:109–116.
crossref pmid
17. Vila JJ, Pérez-Miranda M, Vazquez-Sequeiros E, et al. Initial experience with EUS-guided cholangiopancreatography for biliary and pancreatic duct drainage: a Spanish national survey. Gastrointest Endosc 2012;76:1133–1141.
crossref pmid
18. Ryou M, Mullady DK, Dimaio CJ, Swanson RS, Carr-Locke DL, Thompson CC. Pancreatic antegrade needle-knife (PANK) for treatment of symptomatic pancreatic duct obstruction in Whipple patients (with video). Gastrointest Endosc 2010;72:1081–1088.
crossref pmid
19. Itoi T, Kasuya K, Sofuni A, et al. Endoscopic ultrasonography-guided pancreatic duct access: techniques and literature review of pancreatography, transmural drainage and rendezvous techniques. Dig Endosc 2013;25:241–252.
crossref pmid
20. Bataille L, Deprez P. A new application for therapeutic EUS: main pancreatic duct drainage with a “pancreatic rendezvous technique”. Gastrointest Endosc 2002;55:740–743.
crossref pmid
21. Will U, Meyer F, Manger T, Wanzar I. Endoscopic ultrasound-assisted rendezvous maneuver to achieve pancreatic duct drainage in obstructive chronic pancreatitis. Endoscopy 2005;37:171–173.
crossref pmid pdf
22. Papachristou GI, Gleeson FC, Petersen BT, Levy MJ. Pancreatic endoscopic ultrasound-assisted rendezvous procedure to facilitate drainage of nondilated pancreatic ducts. Endoscopy 2007;39 Suppl 1:E324–E325.
crossref pmid pdf
23. Keenan J, Mallery S, Freeman ML. EUS rendezvous for pancreatic stent placement during endoscopic snare ampullectomy. Gastrointest Endosc 2007;66:850–853.
crossref pmid
24. Cooper ST, Malick J, McGrath K, Slivka A, Sanders MK. EUS-guided rendezvous for the treatment of pancreaticopleural fistula in a patient with chronic pancreatitis and pancreas pseudodivisum. Gastrointest Endosc 2010;71:652–654.
crossref pmid
25. Itoi T, Kikuyama M, Ishii K, Matsumura K, Sofuni A, Itokawa F. EUS-guided rendezvous with single-balloon enteroscopy for treatment of stenotic pancreaticojejunal anastomosis in post-Whipple patients (with video). Gastrointest Endosc 2011;73:398–401.
crossref pmid
26. Kawakubo K, Isayama H, Sasahira N, et al. Clinical utility of an endoscopic ultrasound-guided rendezvous technique via various approach routes. Surg Endosc 2013;27:3437–3443.
crossref pmid
27. Fujii-Lau LL, Levy MJ. Endoscopic ultrasound-guided pancreatic duct drainage. J Hepatobiliary Pancreat Sci 2015;22:51–57.
crossref pmid
28. Dhir V, Isayama H, Itoi T, et al. EUS-guided biliary and pancreatic duct interventions. Dig Endosc 2017 Jan 24 [Epub].
29. Chapman CG, Waxman I, Siddiqui UD. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)-guided pancreatic duct drainage: the basics of when and how to perform EUS-guided pancreatic duct interventions. Clin Endosc 2016;49:161–167.
crossref pmid pmc pdf
30. Itoi T, Sofuni A, Tsuchiya T, et al. Initial evaluation of a new plastic pancreatic duct stent for endoscopic ultrasonography-guided placement. Endoscopy 2015;47:462–465.
crossref pmid pdf
31. Oh D, Park do H, Cho MK, et al. Feasibility and safety of a fully covered self-expandable metal stent with antimigration properties for EUS-guided pancreatic duct drainage: early and midterm outcomes (with video). Gastrointest Endosc 2016;83:366–373.e2.
crossref pmid
32. Elmunzer BJ, Piraka CR. EUS-guided methylene blue injection to facilitate pancreatic duct access after unsuccessful ERCP. Gastroenterology 2016;151:809–810.
crossref pmid
33. Tyberg A, Sharaiha RZ, Kedia P, et al. EUS-guided pancreatic drainage for pancreatic strictures after failed ERCP: a multicenter international collaborative study. Gastrointest Endosc 2017;85:164–169.
crossref pmid
34. Chen YI, Levy MJ, Moreels TG, et al. An international multicenter study comparing EUS-guided pancreatic duct drainage with enteroscopy-assisted endoscopic retrograde pancreatography after Whipple surgery. Gastrointest Endosc 2017;85:170–177.
crossref pmid
PDF Links  PDF Links
PubReader  PubReader
ePub Link  ePub Link
XML Download  XML Download
Full text via DOI  Full text via DOI
Download Citation  Download Citation
CrossRef TDM  CrossRef TDM
Related articles
Endoscopic ultrasound-guided tissue acquisition for personalized treatment in pancreatic adenocarcinoma  2023 March;56(2)
Endoscopic ultrasound-guided hepaticogastrostomy by puncturing both B2 and B3: a single center experience  
Endoscopic ultrasound-guided portal vein coiling: troubleshooting interventional endoscopic ultrasonography  2022 May;55(3)
Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Gastroenterostomy for Afferent Loop Syndrome  2021 November;54(6)
Technical Review of Developments in Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Hepaticogastrostomy  2021 September;54(5)
Editorial Office
Korean Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
#817, 156 Yanghwa-ro (LG Palace, Donggyo-dong), Mapo-gu, Seoul, 04050, Korea
TEL: +82-2-335-1552   FAX: +82-2-335-2690    E-mail:
Copyright © Korean Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.                 Developed in M2PI
Close layer