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Ann Surg. 1996 Nov;224(5):628-38.

Surgical treatment in proximal bile duct cancer. A single-center experience.

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  • 1Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Institut für Pathologie, Germany.



The authors evaluated the experience and results of a single center in surgical treatment of proximal bile duct carcinoma.


Whenever feasible, surgery is the appropriate treatment in proximal bile duct carcinoma. To improve survival rates and with special regard to liver transplantation, the extent of surgical radicalness remains an open issue.


Retrospective analysis of 249 patients who underwent surgery for proximal bile duct carcinoma via the following procedures: resection (n = 125), liver transplantation (n = 25), and exploratory laparotomy (n = 99). Survival rates were calculated according to the Kaplan-Meier method, uni- and multivariate analysis of prognostic factors, and log rank test (p < 0.05).


Survival rates after resection and liver transplantation are correlated with international Union Against Cancer (UICC) tumor stage (resection: overall 5-year, 27.1%; stage I and II, 41.9%; stage IV, 20.7%; liver transplantation: overall 5-year, 17.1%; stage I and II, 37.8%; stage IV, 5.8%). Significant univariate prognostic factors for survival after liver resection were lymph node involvement (N category), tumor stage, tumor-free margins, and vascular invasion; for transplantation, they were local tumor extent, N category, tumor stage, and infiltration of liver parenchyma. For resection and transplantation, a multivariate analysis showed prognostic significance of tumor stage and tumor-free margins.


Resection remains the treatment of choice in proximal bile duct carcinoma. Whenever possible, decisions about resectability should be made during laparotomy. With regard to the observation of long-term survivors, liver transplantation still can be justified in selected patients with stage II carcinoma. It is unknown whether more radical procedures, such as liver transplantation combined with multivisceral resections, will lead to better outcome in advanced stages. With regard to palliation, surgical drainage of the biliary system performed as hepatojejunostomy can be recommended.

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