Hypothesis: Biliary complications after liver transplantation can be predicted from perioperative factors.
Design: Retrospective analysis of data collected prospectively.
Setting: Tertiary referral center.
Patients: From October 5, 1991, through June 22, 2002, 230 patients received 241 consecutive orthotopic liver transplants. Patients were divided into those with (group 1) and those without (group 2) biliary complications.
Main outcome measures: Postoperative outcomes, biliary leakage, and anastomotic stricture.
Results: The overall biliary complication rate was 20.7%, including bile leakage rate of 7.1% and anastomotic stricture rate of 16.2%. By means of univariate analysis, risk factors associated with biliary complications were preoperative serum bilirubin level (P = .003), international normalized ratio (P = .04), the use of stent or T-tube splinting of the anastomosis (P = .02), and the use of live-donor liver graft (P = .03). Stepwise logistic regression analysis demonstrated that the preoperative serum bilirubin level (relative risk [RR], 1.00), use of stent or T-tube splinting of the anastomosis (RR, 2.10), and use of live-donor liver graft (RR, 2.01) were independent risk factors predicting biliary complications after liver transplantation. Graft survival rates at 1, 3, and 5 years were 89.5%, 84.7%, and 79.7%, respectively, in group 1 and 84.7%, 78.4%, and 75.1%, respectively, in group 2 (P>.05). Patient survival rates at 1, 3, and 5 years were 89.1%, 86.5%, and 86.5%, respectively, in group 1, and 86.1%, 82.8%, and 81.0%, respectively, in group 2 (P>.05).
Conclusions: Preoperative serum bilirubin level and the use of stent or T-tube splinting of the anastomosis and live-donor liver grafts were independent risk factors for biliary complications after liver transplantation. We postulated that high preoperative serum bilirubin level reflected severe liver disease and difficult hemostasis, leading to inadvertent injury to the anastomosis during graft rotation or manipulation for hemostasis. The use of a stent or a T tube predisposes to more complications. Further technical refinement is necessary for biliary reconstruction in live-donor liver transplantation.