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Lancet. 2004 Apr 24;363(9418):1354-7.

Seamless management of biliary atresia in England and Wales (1999-2002).

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King's College Hospital, London, UK.



Before 1999, infants born in the UK with suspected biliary atresia were investigated in regional centres, and, if confirmed, a Kasai operation was done there. Since 1999, all infants with suspected biliary atresia in England and Wales, UK, have been referred to one of three designated centres where both the Kasai operation and liver transplantation (if necessary) could be done.


We assessed clearance of jaundice (bilirubin <20 micromol/L) as an early outcome in all cases of biliary atresia referred from one of the three centres. We then estimated survival using the Kaplan-Meier method with endpoints of liver transplantation or death.


148 infants with biliary atresia were treated between January, 1999, and June, 2002. A primary portoenterostomy was done in 142 (96%) infants and a primary liver transplant in five (3%). One child died before any intervention. Early clearance of jaundice after portoenterostomy was achieved in 81 of 142 (57%) infants. Liver transplantation was done in 52 (37%) of those undergoing portoenterostomy. 13 (9%) infants died. Of the 135 children who survived, 84 (62%) still have their native liver and 51 (38%) had transplantation. The median follow-up of survivors was 2.13 (range 0.5-4.1) years. The overall 4-year estimated actuarial survival was 89% (95% CI 82-94). The 4-year estimated actuarial survival with native liver was 51% (42-59%).


Our early results suggest that surgical outcome can be improved by centralisation of care to supra-regional centres.

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