Biliary strictures complicating liver transplantation. Incidence, pathogenesis, management, and outcome

Ann Surg. 1992 Sep;216(3):344-50; discussion 350-2. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199209000-00014.


Six hundred sixty-six patients received 792 liver transplants between February 1, 1984 and September 30, 1991. Biliary reconstruction was by choledochocholedochostomy (CDCD) with T-tube (n = 509) or Roux-en-Y choledochojejunostomy (CDJ) (n = 283). Twenty-five patients (4%) developed biliary strictures. Anastomotic strictures were more common after CDJ (n = 10, 3.5%) than for CDCD (n = 3, 0.6%). Intrahepatic strictures developed in 12 patients. Six patients had occult hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT). The other six patients received grafts in which cold ischemia time exceeded 12 hours. Anastomotic strictures were successfully managed by percutaneous dilation (PD) in five patients (n = 10), operation in three (n = 6), with retransplantation required in two patients. Intrahepatic strictures were managed by PD in seven, retransplantation in one, and expectantly in four patients. Of 25 patients, 19 (76%) are alive with good graft function. In three of six deaths, the biliary stricture was a significant factor to the development of sepsis and allograft failure. The authors conclude that (1) anastomotic strictures are rare after LT; (2) the development of biliary strictures may signify occult HAT; (3) PD is effective for most strictures; and (4) extended cold graft ischemia (less than 12 hours) may be injurious to the biliary epithelium, resulting in intrahepatic stricture formation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anastomosis, Roux-en-Y / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Choledochostomy
  • Cholestasis / etiology*
  • Cholestasis / therapy
  • Cholestasis, Intrahepatic / etiology
  • Cholestasis, Intrahepatic / therapy
  • Dilatation
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Reoperation
  • Therapeutic Irrigation