Biliary reconstruction without T tubes or stents in liver transplantation: Report of 502 consecutive cases



Although T tubes and stents are widely used as part of the routine biliary reconstruction in liver transplantation, they have inherent complications and there is no proof that they are beneficial to healing. We do not use T tubes or anastomotic stents, and we reviewed our experience with 502 consecutive, whole-size liver grafts to determine the incidence and nature of biliary complications. Duct-to- duct (D-D) and Roux-en-Y loop-to-duct (RY-D) anastomoses were performed in 321 and 176 cases, respectively. In 62% of cases, the donor gallbladder was transplanted and an external catheter cholecystostomy was fashioned to provide for postoperative cholangiography. In the remaining cases the gallbladder was removed. Biliary complications of all types occurred after 13.5% of the transplants. Anastomotic complications (stricture, obstruction, or leak) occurred in 8.2% of the cases, and they were least frequent (4.0%) with RY-D reconstructions. Gallbladder-related complications accounted for one quarter of all biliary complications, and they outweighed the advantage of convenient access to the biliary tree for cholangiography. Four patients (0.9%) died of biliary complications. We conclude that routine reconstruction of the biliary tract without T tubes or stents is a safe technique in liver transplantation. Retaining the donor gallbladder as a method of providing cholanglography is not necessary.