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Ultrasound Med Biol. 2010 Aug;36(8):1282-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2010.05.001.

Evaluating biliary anatomy and variations in living liver donors by a new technique: three-dimensional contrast-enhanced ultrasonic cholangiography.

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Department of Medical Ultrasonics, Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Ultrasound, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, PR China.


Accurate assessment of the biliary anatomy is important for the safety of liver donors in living donor liver transplantation (LDLT). We evaluated the biliary anatomy and variations of 12 living liver donors with 3-D contrast-enhanced ultrasonic cholangiography (3-D CEUSC) by injecting microbubble contrast agents into the common hepatic ducts intraoperatively. Two radiologists assessed the diagnostically adequate, delineation of biliary branch orders, visibility scores (grades 0 to 3) and anatomical patterns of the intrahepatic biliary tree by consensus. The results were compared with findings on intraoperative cholangiography (IOC) and surgery. 3-D CEUSC successfully demonstrated the spatial structure of the intrahepatic biliary tree in all 12 donors. The maximum branching order of intrahepatic bile ducts displayed on 3-D CEUSC was the fifth order in the right lobe and fourth order in the left lobe of the liver, respectively. The visibility scores of the first-order (3.00 +/- 0.00) and second-order (2.67 +/- 0.69) branches were significantly (p < 0.001) higher than that of the third-order (1.98 +/- 1.13) branches, whereas visibility scores of the second-order (2.88 +/- 0.34) and third-order (2.44 +/- 1.01) branches in the right lobe were significantly (p = 0.040 and p < 0.001, respectively) higher than those in the left lobe (2.46 +/- 0.88 and 1.33 +/- 0.99). The 3-D CEUSC images of the 12 donors were diagnostically adequate for evaluating the biliary anatomy. Normal biliary pattern in nine donors and biliary variations in three donors were confirmed by both IOC and surgical findings. 3-D CEUSC may be a potential alternative to IOC in the evaluation of biliary anatomical variation before graft harvesting in LDLT.

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