Long-Term Impact of Iatrogenic Bile Duct Injury

Dig Surg. 2020;37(1):10-21. doi: 10.1159/000496432. Epub 2019 Jan 17.


Background: Bile duct injury (BDI) is a devastating complication following cholecystectomy. After initial management of BDI, patients stay at risk for late complications including anastomotic strictures, recurrent cholangitis, and secondary biliary cirrhosis.

Methods: We provide a comprehensive overview of current literature on the long-term outcome of BDI. Considering the availability of only limited data regarding treatment of anastomotic strictures in literature, we also retrospectively analyzed patients with anastomotic strictures following a hepaticojejunostomy (HJ) from a prospectively maintained database of 836 BDI patients.

Results: Although clinical outcomes of endoscopic, radiologic, and surgical treatment of BDI are good with success rates of around 90%, quality of life (QoL) may be impaired even after "clinically successful" treatment. Following surgical treatment, the incidence of anastomotic strictures varies from 5 to 69%, with most studies reporting incidences around 10-20%. The median time to stricture formation varies between 11 and 30 months. Long-term BDI-related mortality varies between 1.8 and 4.6%. Of 91 patients treated in our center for anastomotic strictures after HJ, 81 (89%) were treated by percutaneous balloon dilatation, with a long-term success rate of 77%. Twenty-four patients primarily or secondarily underwent surgical revision, with recurrent strictures occurring in 21%.

Conclusions: The long-term impact of BDI is considerable, both in terms of clinical outcomes and QoL. Treatment should be performed in tertiary expert centers to optimize outcomes. Patients require a long-term follow-up to detect anastomotic strictures. Strictures should initially be managed by percutaneous dilatation, with surgical revision as a next step in treatment.

Keywords: Anastomotic stricture; Bile duct injury; Bile leakage; Cholecystectomy; Long-term outcome.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anastomosis, Roux-en-Y / adverse effects
  • Bile Ducts / injuries*
  • Bile Ducts / surgery*
  • Cholangitis / etiology
  • Cholecystectomy / adverse effects*
  • Cholecystectomy / methods
  • Constriction, Pathologic / etiology
  • Dilatation / instrumentation
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease*
  • Jejunum / surgery
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / etiology
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies