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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2003 Oct;37(4):430-3.

Long-term survival following Kasai portoenterostomy: is chronic liver disease inevitable?

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Department of Child Health, King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London, United Kingdom.



Extrahepatic biliary atresia (EHBA) is the most common indication for liver transplantation in childhood. Most children who do not undergo transplant are reported to have chronic liver disease and its complications. The aim of this single-center study was to identify children with normal laboratory indices and no clinical evidence of chronic liver disease 10 or more years after Kasai portoenterostomy (KP).


A retrospective analysis of the medical notes of all children surgically treated at the authors' center between 1979 and 1991 was undertaken. Criteria for inclusion were absence of surgical complications, unremarkable clinical examination, and normal bilirubin, aspartate aminotransferase, albumin, international normalized prothrombin ratio, and platelet count.


Of 244 children surgically treated during the observation period, the authors identified 28 (11%) adolescents (14 male) who fulfilled the entry criteria. Their median age was 13.4 years (range, 10.2-22.2 years). Twenty-six with type 3 EHBA had conventional KP, whereas 2 underwent modified operations. The corrective surgery was performed at a median age of 58 days (range, 20-99 days). Median time of complete clearance of jaundice from the date of KP was 75 days (range, 21-339 days). Twelve (43%) patients had history of cholangitis at a median age of 3.4 years. The liver histologic findings were suggestive of mild to moderate fibrosis in 54.2% and cirrhosis in 40.7% of the patients who underwent biopsy. No child had gastrointestinal bleeding during follow-up. Thirteen (46%) patients had an elective esophagogastroduodenoscopy, which was normal in all. Twenty-six (93%) patients were in mainstream education, whereas the remaining two (7%) attended special school because of reasons unrelated to liver disease.


A sizable proportion of children with EHBA avoid significant chronic liver disease and its complications 10 years or more after conventional surgical correction and have an excellent quality of life. Their good outcome is not hampered by isolated episodes of ascending cholangitis. Whether or not the residual histologic damage will become symptomatic during their lifetime remains to be established.

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