Steroids in biliary atresia: single surgeon, single centre, prospective study

J Hepatol. 2013 Nov;59(5):1054-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2013.06.012. Epub 2013 Jun 25.


Background & aims: The effect of adjuvant steroids in infants with biliary atresia (BA) is not clear and evidence of benefit is lacking.

Methods: During the period Jan. 2000-Dec. 2011, 153 infants with isolated (CMV IgM-ve) BA underwent Kasai portoenterostomy (KPE) at<70 days. They were divided into three groups: LOW-dose steroid (from a previous randomized trial; starting prednisolone 2mg/kg/day, n=18), HIGH-dose steroid (starting prednisolone 5mg/kg/day, n=44), and NO steroid [n=72+19 placebo (from randomized trial)=91]. Outcome was assessed by early liver biochemistry, clearance of jaundice (<20 μmol/L), and actuarial native liver survival. Data are quoted as median (IQ range) and compared with non-parametric ANOVA, Chi or Log-rank tests as appropriate. p ≤ 0.05 was regarded as significant.

Results: All three groups were comparable for age (ANOVA, p=0.31) and a surrogate marker of liver fibrosis [aspartate-aminotransferase index (APRi), ANOVA, p=0.67]. At 1 month post KPE, there was a significant reduction in bilirubin [58 (25-91) vs. 91 (52-145)μmol/L, p=0.0015], AST [118 (91-159) vs. 155 (108-193)IU/L, p=0.0015], and APRi [0.49 (0.28-0.89) vs. 0.82 (0.45-1.2), p=0.005] for HIGH vs. NO steroid. There was a significant increase in % clearance of jaundice with the use of steroids [47/91 (52%) vs. 12/18 (67%) vs. 29/44 (66%); steroids vs. no steroids, p=0.037]. There was no statistical difference in 4-year patient survival (96% vs. 94% vs. 95%) or native liver survival (4 year=46% vs. 50 vs. 57%).

Conclusions: The adjuvant use of prednisolone significantly improved early post-operative liver biochemistry (especially at the higher dose), and increased the proportion of infants who cleared their jaundice at 6 months post-KPE.

Keywords: APRi; AST; BA; BASM; Biliary Atresia Splenic Malformation; Biliary atresia; CMV; HLA; IBA; KPE; Kasai portoenterostomy; LT; NLS; Prognosis; Steroids; aspartate aminotransferase; aspartate aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio index; biliary atresia; cytomegalovirus; human leucocyte antigen; isolated biliary atresia; liver transplantation; native liver survival; γ-glutamyl transpeptidase; γGT.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biliary Atresia / drug therapy*
  • Biliary Atresia / mortality
  • Biliary Atresia / surgery*
  • Bilirubin / metabolism
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Portoenterostomy, Hepatic*
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Steroids / therapeutic use*
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Steroids
  • Prednisolone
  • Bilirubin