Biliary tract strictures after orthotopic liver transplantation: diagnosis and management

Endoscopy. 1994 Aug;26(6):517-22. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-1009026.


Biliary tract complications in 105 patients who had undergone orthotopic liver transplantation were reviewed in order to determine their incidence and localization. In addition, the possible endoscopic and percutaneous management of such complications was evaluated. Signs of cholestasis appeared in 32 of 105 (30.5%) transplant recipients after a mean of 6.5 months (range 1-19 months), and visualization of the biliary system was performed in all. Twenty biliary tract complications were observed in these 32 patients (62.5%). There were multiple strictures, both intrahepatic and extrahepatic, in 11 grafts. Five of the nine extrahepatic strictures were not confined to the site of the bile duct anastomosis, and involved the whole common bile duct of the donor liver, while the remaining four were confined. The multiple intrahepatic and extrahepatic strictures were related either to occlusion of the hepatic artery or to the fact that the graft had been in a cold ischemic state for a prolonged time. In contrast, multiple strictures and necrosis of the whole extrahepatic bile duct were attributed to local ischemia due to the harvesting procedure. Stenoses strictly confined to the site of anastomosis were thought to be due to surgical technique. Ten extrahepatic bile duct stenoses with considerably impaired bile flow were corrected endoscopically (four), percutaneously (three) and by surgery (three). In four patients with complications in the whole intrahepatic and extrahepatic system, retransplantation was necessary. Biliary tract complications in our patients occurred in up to 19% after liver transplantation on long-term follow-up. Complications of only the extrahepatic system can be treated successfully, whereas complications involving multiple stenoses of the intrahepatic bile duct system frequently require retransplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bile Ducts / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholangiography
  • Cholangiopancreatography, Endoscopic Retrograde
  • Cholestasis / diagnosis
  • Cholestasis / etiology*
  • Cholestasis / therapy
  • Endoscopy
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy
  • Reoperation