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Gastrointest Endosc. 2002 Feb;55(2):224-31.

Biliary tract complications after orthotopic liver transplantation with choledochocholedochostomy anastomosis: endoscopic findings and results of therapy.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology/Hepatology, Indiana University Medical Center, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202-5000, USA.



Biliary tract complications are a continuing source of morbidity after orthotopic liver transplantation. This is a retrospective examination of experience with ERCP in patients with biliary tract complications after orthotopic liver transplantation to determine type and frequency of complications and outcome after endoscopic therapy.


From May 1988 to August 1999, orthotopic liver transplantation was performed 408 times; 4 additional patients who underwent orthotopic liver transplantation at another hospital were also followed. The records of 367 patients who underwent choledochocholedochostomy were reviewed. Of these, 121 underwent 325 ERCPs; 226 ERCPs were performed because of acute problems (typically cholestasis with or without cholangitis), and 99 were for reevaluation of the bile duct, stent change, or stent removal. Three patients underwent ERCP because of pancreatic problems.


A biliary complication was identified in 24.5% of patients (90 of 367) and more than 1 complication in 32%. At ERCP, 37 patients (30.5%) had biliary stones; 9 further patients (7.4%) had only sludge. Stones were completely cleared at the initial or a subsequent ERCP. Strictures were found in 55 patients (45.5%), either at the anastomosis (n = 43) or at another site(s) in the donor duct (n = 12). Balloon or bougie dilation followed by stent insertion was performed in 54 patients. Endoscopic therapy was successful in 91% of patients with biliary strictures. A biliary leak/fistulae was found in 22 patients (18.1%) and endoscopic therapy, when attempted, was successful in all. Eight patients had possible sphincter of Oddi dysfunction based on dilated recipient and donor ducts together with elevated liver enzymes. After sphincterotomy, the liver enzymes returned to normal in only one of these patients. Three patients had blood clots in the biliary tree.


When biliary tract complications are suspected after orthotopic liver transplantation, ERCP identifies biliary abnormalities if present and offers multiple therapeutic options. Endoscopic therapy is usually successful but multiple procedures are often necessary, especially when treating strictures.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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