Background: Accurate knowledge of biliary anatomy and its variants is essential to ensure successful hepatic surgery; however, data from European countries are lacking.
Methods: Two hundred cholangiograms obtained from patients submitted to whole liver transplantation were reviewed; donors' characteristics were related to the prevalence of typical biliary anatomy and its variants. A comprehensive literature search was performed with MEDLINE and EMBASE from 1980 to 2010 to investigate whether geographical origin could be related to biliary abnormalities.
Results: Typical biliary anatomy was observed in 64.5% of cases, but female donors more frequently presented an anatomic variation; typical anatomy was present in 55.0% of females and in 74.0% of males (P = 0.005). Twenty-two reports were identified by the literature search with a total of 7,559 cases, including the present series; heterogeneity was low (Q = 14.60; I2 < 5.0%) after exclusion of three outlier reports. Prevalence of typical biliary anatomy was similar in Europeans and Americans (∼60%); a slightly higher prevalence was observed in Asiatics (∼65%).
Conclusions: Anatomic variants seem to be more frequent in females, probably as a consequence of different embryologic development. Available data suggest that typical biliary anatomy can be more frequent in Asiatics, but an accurate means of classification is essential to making comparison realistic.