Endoscopic Stenting in Hilar Cholangiocarcinoma: When, How, and How Much to Drain?

Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2019 Nov 4:2019:5161350. doi: 10.1155/2019/5161350. eCollection 2019.


Hilar cholangiocarcinoma (HCCA) involves a complex anatomical region where bile ducts, arteries, and veins create a complex network. HCCA can lead to biliary strictures at the main hepatic confluence, involving the right and left radicles. Endoscopic drainage of jaundiced patients with HCCA is challenging and carries a high risk of infective complications. HCCA needs a careful multidisciplinary evaluation to assess the indication and purposes (preoperative/palliative) of the biliary drainage. Biliary drainage in HCCA needs to be planned by magnetic resonance cholangiography in order to study the biliary anatomy and perform a target drainage of the intrahepatic ducts above the malignant hilar stricture; all the opacified intrahepatic ducts above the hilar stricture must be drained to reduce septic complications. Drainage of >50% of the liver volume is important to obtain bilirubin reduction and less complications, but atrophic liver segments (identified by CT scan) do not require drainage due to the increased risk of cholangitis. When preoperative biliary drainage is planned, plastic stents must be inserted. Self-expandable metal stents are indicated for palliative purposes and should be placed only when a complete liver drainage is possible; only uncovered metal stents are indicated to drain malignant hilar strictures to avoid side-branch occlusion.

Publication types

  • Review