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Br J Surg. 1995 Nov;82(11):1522-5.

Palliation of irresectable hilar cholangiocarcinoma with biliary drainage and radiotherapy.

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Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Twelve patients with irresectable or recurrent hilar cholangiocarcinoma were treated with internal biliary drainage followed by intraluminal (iridium-192) and external-beam radiotherapy. Biliary drainage was accomplished by means of a combined surgical and interventional radiological approach. Initial biliary decompression was performed surgically by tumour resection, intrahepatic biliary enteric bypass or distal biliary-enteric anastomosis with a temporary stent. Maintenance of internal biliary drainage and application of intraluminal radiotherapy were accomplished radiologically with the use of percutaneous dilatation and metallic expandable biliary endoprostheses. Median survival was 14.5 months; all 12 patients survived for at least 6 months. Early complications during radiotherapy were minor and included two patients with cholangitis and one with transient haemobilia. Jaundice was relieved in ten of 12 patients, while episodes of cholangitis were seen during long-term follow-up in 11 (median 1.5 episodes per patient). Internal biliary drainage, in conjunction with radiotherapy, appears to be safe and effective palliation of irresectable or recurrent hilar cholangiocarcinoma. Patients can maintain a reasonable quality of life with an acceptable incidence of cholangitis, without the hindrance of external drainage devices.

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