Bile leak after hepatic transplantation: cholangiographic features, prevalence, and clinical outcome

Radiology. 1994 Aug;192(2):413-6. doi: 10.1148/radiology.192.2.8029406.


Purpose: To evaluate cholangiographic features and prevalence of bile duct leaks in liver transplant recipients and correlate the different types of leaks with clinical outcomes.

Materials and methods: For 6 years, 3,242 cholangiograms were obtained in 1,363 liver allografts in 1,306 patients. All cholangiograms with definite or suspected bile duct leaks, per the radiology reports, were retrospectively reviewed.

Results: Leaks were diagnosed in 59 allografts in 59 patients. The prevalence of leaks after liver transplantation, as depicted on cholangiograms, was 4.3% (59 of 1,363 grafts). Sixteen of 21 patients with anastomotic leaks needed 17 surgical repairs, four leaks were surgically drained without repair, and one was treated with percutaneous biliary catheter drainage. Twelve of 21 patients with T-tube exit-site leaks underwent T-tube drainage. Seven underwent surgical repair or drainage, one died, and one underwent retransplantation. Nine of 13 patients with leaks from bile duct necrosis required retransplantation.

Conclusion: Bile duct leaks at biliary anastomoses and those resulting from bile duct necrosis have high morbidity, mortality, and graft loss rates and usually require surgical intervention. Most T-tube exit-site leaks heal with conservative treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anastomosis, Surgical
  • Bile Ducts / pathology
  • Bile Ducts / surgery
  • Bile*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholangiography*
  • Drainage / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Reoperation
  • Surgical Wound Dehiscence / diagnostic imaging