Objective: Biliary reconstruction in orthotopic liver transplantation is increasingly being performed without T tube drainage. This increases the difficulty of diagnosing subsequent biliary tract problems, with a greater reliance placed on endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) for the diagnosis of biliary tract complications. The usefulness of ERCP was evaluated in patients who underwent liver transplant where biliary reconstruction was not done with T tube drainage.
Design and participants: A retrospective study of the case notes of 90 patients who underwent liver transplantation, and in whom the biliary reconstruction was by end to end choledochocholedochostomy without T tube splintage.
Results: ERCP was performed as the primary procedure to investigate a suspected biliary complication in 30 patients (33%). The procedure was successful in 26 patients (87%), and showed a biliary stricture in 12 patients and a bile leak in six patients. ERCP was normal in seven patients and demonstrated dilated ducts alone in one patient. Six of the biliary strictures were successfully dilated endoscopically (50%), but none of the bile leaks resolved with endoscopic drainage.
Conclusion: This study confirms the diagnostic role of ERCP post liver transplant. The therapeutic role requires clearer evaluation with a controlled trial.