Internal biliary stenting in orthotopic liver transplantation



Biliary complications account for significant morbidity in orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT), with a reported incidence ranging from 6% to 47%, and many centers are reassessing the need and options available for stenting the biliary anastomosis. We report on our experience using a 6F Silastic, double-J, ureteral stent as an internal biliary stent in OLT. From October 15, 1995, to September 30, 1998, a total of 99 patients at our institution underwent 108 OLTs. Of these, 77 patients received an end-to-end choledochocholedochostomy over an internal stent. Three patients died within 1 week post-OLT, leaving 74 patients for evaluation (follow-up, 2 to 38 months). Stents were placed transanastomotic and transsphincteric at the time of OLT and secured with a dissolvable suture. At 4 to 6 weeks post-OLT, stents visible within the biliary tree on kidney, ureters, and bladder radiograph were removed endoscopically. Graft and patient survival rates were 92% and 96%, respectively. There were 12 biliary complications (18%): anastomotic leak in 6 patients (9%), anastomotic stricture in 5 patients (7.6%), and stent migration in 1 patient (1.5%). Thirty-two patients (43%) passed the biliary stent without intervention, whereas 42 patients (57%) underwent esophagogastro duodenoscopy (EGD) stent removal at 4 to 6 weeks without incident. Treatment of the complications included percutaneous drainage, endoscopic dilatation with stenting, and/or conversion to Roux-en-Y choledochojejunostomy. The use of the 6 F Silastic, double-J, ureteral stent provides a safe and effective means of stenting the biliary anastomosis in OLT. Major advantages to this method are that it: (1) is completely internal, (2) is biliary decompressive, (3) is radiopaque, (4) can be spontaneously passed, and (5) is easily accessible for EGD extraction.