Background and study aims: Benign biliary strictures, mostly associated with biliary surgery, are of growing importance for the therapeutic endoscopist. In the short term, endoscopic therapy has success rates similar to those of surgery. With regard to the long-term results, fewer data are available, particularly concerning forms of treatment including percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage (PTBD) as an additional tool. The present study was aimed at allowing evaluation of the short and long-term results of endoscopic and percutaneous treatment in patients with benign biliary strictures.
Patients and methods: The charts of 40 consecutive patients treated during the period 1992-1994 (12 men, 28 women; median age 60.5 years, range 24-86) were analyzed retrospectively. Long-term follow-up was carried out by direct contact. In almost all of the cases, the endoscopic treatment consisted of papillotomy and stenting (single stent treatment 10 or 11.5 Fr); Yamakawa-type prostheses (14 or 16 Fr) were used in the PTBD patients.
Results: The primary treatment was successful in 37 of the 40 patients, including nine of 21 patients (43 %) treated endoscopically and 28 of 31 patients (90%) treated using the percutaneous approach. The complication rates after endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) were 14%, compared with 26% after PTBD. Relief of the stricture was achieved in 25 patients after a median period of stent treatment of nine months (range 3-44), while recurrences were seen in six patients with stents in place for only 4.5 months (range 1-8), and in one patient with a metal stent. Therapy failed in two patients, and three were lost to follow-up. Serious long-term complications were rare, but there was a fatal complication in one patient with metal stents. The follow-up period was 44 months (range 11-66). Three patients underwent successful primary surgery, and three more underwent successful surgery after stricture recurrence; all were free of complaints after 49 months (range 40-44).
Conclusions: Endoscopic and percutaneous treatment of benign biliary strictures is not only a short-term treatment, but also an adequate long-term therapeutic alternative to surgery, with tolerable complication rates. The period of stenting appears to influence the outcome, and the diameter of the stents used also probably plays a role. Prospective studies are required for further evaluation of these observations.