Biliary strictures complicating living donor liver transplantation: Problems, novel insights and solutions

World J Gastroenterol. 2018 May 21;24(19):2061-2072. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i19.2061.


Biliary stricture complicating living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) is a relatively common complication, occurring in most transplant centres across the world. Cases of biliary strictures are more common in LDLT than in deceased donor liver transplantation. Endoscopic management is the mainstay for biliary strictures complicating LDLT and includes endoscopic retrograde cholangiography, sphincterotomy and stent placement (with or without balloon dilatation). The efficacy and safety profiles as well as outcomes of endoscopic management of biliary strictures complicating LDLT is an area that needs to be viewed in isolation, owing to its unique set of problems and attending complications; as such, it merits a tailored approach, which is yet to be well established. The diagnostic criteria applied to these strictures are not uniform and are over-reliant on imaging studies showing an anastomotic narrowing. It has to be kept in mind that in the setting of LDLT, a subjective anastomotic narrowing is present in most cases due to a mismatch in ductal diameters. However, whether this narrowing results in a functionally significant narrowing is a question that needs further study. In addition, wide variation in the endotherapy protocols practised in most centres makes it difficult to interpret the results and hampers our understanding of this topic. The outcome definition for endotherapy is also heterogenous and needs to be standardised to allow for comparison of data in this regard and establish a clinical practice guideline. There have been multiple studies in this area in the last 2 years, with novel findings that have provided solutions to some of these issues. This review endeavours to incorporate these new findings into the wider understanding of endotherapy for biliary strictures complicating LDLT, with specific emphasis on diagnosis of strictures in the LDLT setting, endotherapy protocols and outcome definitions. An attempt is made to present the best management options currently available as well as directions for future research in the area.

Keywords: Biliary strictures; Endoscopic management; Living donor liver transplantation; Self-expanding metal stents; Stenting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anastomosis, Surgical / adverse effects*
  • Biliary Tract / diagnostic imaging
  • Biliary Tract / pathology
  • Catheterization / methods
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde / instrumentation
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde / methods*
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde / standards
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde / trends
  • Cholestasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Cholestasis / etiology
  • Cholestasis / therapy*
  • Constriction, Pathologic / diagnostic imaging
  • Constriction, Pathologic / etiology
  • Constriction, Pathologic / therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Liver Transplantation / methods
  • Living Donors
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Self Expandable Metallic Stents
  • Treatment Outcome