Biliary tract complications after orthotopic liver transplantation: still the "Achilles heel"?

Transplant Proc. 2010 Dec;42(10):4154-7. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2010.09.045.


Postoperative biliary tract complications after liver transplantation (LT) still lead to early and late morbidity and mortality. Modern interventional endoscopic techniques can replace surgical repair as the first line of treatment. Nevertheless surgical intervention plays an important role in specific situations. We performed a retrospective analysis of patients with biliary complications after LT over a 12-year period. We compared treatment programs based on duration and success rate. The rate of biliary complications was 24.5% (60/245). The side-to-side choledocholedochostomy (CDC) technique showed the significantly lowest rate. The rate of complications after hepaticojejunostomy (HJS) was considerably lower, albeit not significantly. Eighty-one percent of complications after CDC were treated with interventional endoscopy. The duration of treatment of strictures, was 10 times greater than that of leakages. Surgical repair was necessary for 19% of complications occurring after CDC. The treatment options after HJS largely comprised surgical repairs. From a surgical standpoint, choosing the correct method for biliary reconstruction and ensuring normal arterial flow are the best preventive techniques to avoid biliary complications. Over the past 10 years, the primary treatment regimen has moved from surgical repair to interventional endoscopy. Only when endoscopy fails, should one consider surgical repair. The treatment after HJS is still primarily surgical. Percutaneous transhepatic approaches should be avoided. Creation of an inspection stoma to allow endoscopic access is an option.

MeSH terms

  • Biliary Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Retrospective Studies