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Ann Surg. 1993 Jan;217(1):20-7.

Improvements in survival by aggressive resections of hilar cholangiocarcinoma.

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  • 1Clinic for Visceral and Transplantation Surgery, University of Berne, Switzerland.


The operative management of hilar cholangiocarcinoma has evolved because of advances in diagnostic imaging that have permitted improved patient selection, and refinements in operative techniques that have lowered operative mortality rates. Over a 4-year period, 48 patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma were managed. Twenty-seven patients were treated by palliative measures. Preoperative investigation identified 29 patients who were judged fit for operation without proven irresectability by radiologic studies, and 21 of the 29 patients had tumor removal (72%). Twenty-three operative procedures were performed: local excision (n = 12) (two had subsequent hepatic resection), and hepatic resection primarily (n = 9). Eight patients had complications (35%), and one patient died (4.3%). The mean actuarial survival after local excision in 36 months, and after hepatic resection, 32 months. Palliation as assessed by personal interview was excellent for more than 75% of the months of survival. A combination of careful patient selection and complete radiologic assessment will allow an increased proportion of patients to be resected by complex operative procedures with low mortality rate, acceptable morbidity rate, and an increase in survival with an improved quality of life.

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