Efficacy of endoscopic self-expandable metal stent placement versus surgical bypass for inoperable pancreatic cancer-related malignant biliary obstruction: a propensity score-matched analysis

Surg Endosc. 2018 Feb;32(2):971-976. doi: 10.1007/s00464-017-5774-8. Epub 2017 Aug 4.


Background and aims: We explored the difference in treatment efficacy of endoscopic self-expendable metal stent (SEMS) and surgical bypass (SB) in the management of malignant biliary obstruction (MBO) secondary to pancreatic cancer.

Method: A retrospective analysis was conducted using consecutive patients who were admitted from 2008 to 2016 receiving either endoscopic SEMS or SB. Diagnosis other than pancreatic cancer and SEMS placement as a pre-operative drainage before Whipple's operation was excluded. Propensity score (PS) matching was performed to eliminate the confounding effect of heterogeneity between patients from two treatment groups. The rate of early, late treatment-related events, readmission and re-intervention, the duration of hospitalization, and the cost of treatment were compared.

Results: There were 98 patients undergoing endoscopic SEMS or SB in the study period. The median age was 68.5 years and 52% of the patients had metastatic disease with median survival of 6 months. After 1:1 PS matching, 30 patients from each group were analyzed. The hospital stay was significantly longer in the SB group (13 vs. 5 days, P < 0.001) with a trend of higher rate of early treatment-related events (24.1 vs. 6.7%, P = 0.113). None of the patients in SB group developed recurrent biliary obstruction. Higher readmission rate (36.7 vs. 3.3%, P = 0.004) and re-intervention rate (36.7 vs. 10%, P = 0.033) were found in the SEMS group. The 3-, 6-, and 9-month re-intervention rates for endoscopic SEMS and SB group were 24.9, 29.4, 45.7, and 11.2, 11.2, and 11.2%, respectively (P = 0.03). When all subsequent readmissions were taken into account, there was no significant difference in hospital stay in both groups (7.5 vs. 14 days, P = 0.359); however, the total cost of treatment in SB group was significantly higher than that in the SEMS group (13,307 vs. 7113 USD, P = 0.035).

Conclusion: Despite being more invasive and expensive, surgical bypass provides durable relief of biliary obstruction. Endoscopic SEMS is associated with minimal procedural risks and low re-intervention rate, which are important considerations for frail patients with limited life expectancy.

Keywords: Biliary obstruction; Double bypass; Metal stent; Pancreatic cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cholestasis / etiology
  • Cholestasis / therapy*
  • Endoscopy, Digestive System*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data
  • Propensity Score
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Expandable Metallic Stents*
  • Treatment Outcome