Systematic review with meta-analysis of studies comparing primary duct closure and T-tube drainage after laparoscopic common bile duct exploration for choledocholithiasis

Surg Endosc. 2016 Mar;30(3):845-61. doi: 10.1007/s00464-015-4303-x. Epub 2015 Jun 20.


Background: With advances in laparoscopic instrumentation and acquisition of advanced laparoscopic skills, laparoscopic common bile duct exploration (LCBDE) is technically feasible and increasingly practiced by surgeons worldwide. Traditional practice of suturing the dochotomy with T-tube drainage may be associated with T-tube-related complications. Primary duct closure (PDC) without a T-tube has been proposed as an alternative to T-tube placement (TTD) after LCBDE. The aim of this meta-analysis was to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of PDC when compared to TTD after LCBDE for choledocholithiasis.

Methods: A systematic literature search was performed using PubMed, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Google Scholar, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases for studies comparing primary duct closure and T-tube drainage. Studies were reviewed for the primary outcome measures: overall postoperative complications, postoperative biliary-specific complications, re-interventions, and postoperative hospital stay. Secondary outcomes assessed were: operating time, median hospital expenses, and general complications.

Results: Sixteen studies comparing PDC and TTD qualified for inclusion in our meta-analysis, with a total of 1770 patients. PDC showed significantly better results when compared to TTD in terms of postoperative biliary peritonitis (OR 0.22, 95% CI 0.06-0.76, P = 0.02), operating time (WMD, -22.27, 95% CI -33.26 to -11.28, P < 0.00001), postoperative hospital stay (WMD, -3.22; 95% CI -4.52 to -1.92, P < 0.00001), and median hospital expenses (SMD, -1.37, 95% CI -1.96 to -0.77, P < 0.00001). Postoperative hospital stay was significantly decreased in the primary duct closure with internal biliary drainage (PDC + BD) group when compared to TTD group (WMD, -2.68; 95% CI -3.23 to -2.13, P < 0.00001).

Conclusions: This comprehensive meta-analysis demonstrates that PDC after LCBDE is feasible and associated with fewer complications than TTD. Based on these results, primary duct closure may be considered as the optimal procedure for dochotomy closure after LCBDE.

Keywords: Choledochotomy; Cholelithiasis; Common bile duct exploration; Laparoscopy; Primary duct closure; T-tube.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Choledocholithiasis / surgery*
  • Common Bile Duct / surgery*
  • Drainage / methods
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / methods
  • Length of Stay
  • Operative Time
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Suture Techniques