Biliary complications after liver transplant: the Victorian experience

Aust N Z J Surg. 1996 Mar;66(3):162-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-2197.1996.tb01147.x.


Background: Biliary complications remain a continuing problem in liver transplantation. The goals of this study were to document the frequency of biliary complications following orthotopic liver transplantation in the Victorian programme, and to examine associations with suspected risk factors with reference to biliary stenosis.

Methods: Data were collected from 129 consecutive transplants in 123 patients (106 adults, 17 children) at the Austin Hospital, Melbourne during the period 1988-94. The 2 year actuarial survival was 88%. Biliary reconstruction was by end-to-end anastomosis in 89 patients and Roux-en-Y in 40. Complications were suspected on clinical, biochemical or microbiological evidence. Biliary stenoses were considered to be radiological evidence of duct narrowing.

Results: Biliary complications occurred in 19% and biliary stenosis in 8.5%. Of the stenoses, 1/35 occurred in the first 20 month period, 9/47 in the second and 1/47 in the third. There was a significant difference between the middle period and other periods (P<0.05, Chi-square test). This change may be related to incomplete flushing of bile from the donor liver. Recurrence of the original disease was suspected for one stenosis. The length of the donor bile duct from hilum to anastomosis, cold ischaemia time and total hepatic artery flow at transplant did not relate to stenosis. Cholangitis was not diagnosed in patients without strictures. Strictures were managed by dilatation (5/11) and by operative repair (6).

Conclusions: Stenoses were not related to the length of the donor bile duct, cold ischaemia time or total hepatic artery flow. Meticulous adherence to the protocol for flushing out bile at the donor operation was associated with a significant reduction in frequency of biliary stenoses.

MeSH terms

  • Actuarial Analysis
  • Adult
  • Anastomosis, Roux-en-Y / adverse effects
  • Anastomosis, Surgical / adverse effects
  • Anastomosis, Surgical / methods
  • Bile / metabolism
  • Bile Duct Diseases / etiology*
  • Bile Duct Diseases / therapy
  • Bile Ducts / surgery
  • Child
  • Choledochostomy
  • Cholestasis / etiology
  • Constriction, Pathologic / etiology
  • Constriction, Pathologic / therapy
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hepatic Artery / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Liver Transplantation / methods
  • Liver Transplantation / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Victoria