Biliary strictures after liver transplantation: Clinical picture, correlates and outcomes


The A.W. Morrow Gastroenterology and Liver Centre, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Missenden Road, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia.


We retrospectively examined 154 adults to ascertain the frequency, site of and pre-disposing factors for biliary strictures after liver transplantation, as well as their management and clinical outcome. Twenty patients (12.5%) were identified with biliary strictures; 16 were non-anastomotic and four were anastomotic strictures. The median time from transplantation to stricture diagnosis was 17 weeks (range 3–366). Of the 16 non-anastomotic strictures, six were intrahepatic, eight hilar and two extrahepatic (donor bile duct). A control group (n = 32) of patients transplanted immediately before and after index cases was used to examine for correlates in patients with non-anastomotic strictures. At the time of diagnosis in the non-anastomotic index cases, there was a higher incidence of: (i) biliary sludge (63 vs 0%; P< 0.001); and (ii) clinical cholangitis (75 vs 0%; P< 0.001) compared with controls. Primary sclerosing cholangitis was more often the diagnosis in index patients with non-anastomotic strictures compared with controls (31 vs 9%; P<0.05). There were no differences between index patients and controls (non-anastomotic group) in ABO blood group non-identity, cold allograft ischaemia time, use of OKT3 (murine monoclonal antibody to CD3) and hepatic artery thrombosis. Of 15 patients treated with balloon dilatation, seven required stent insertion although none have required surgery. As determined by liver function tests, there was evidence of persisting graft dysfunction in index patients compared with controls (SAP 381 vs 112 U/L, P< 0.001; GGT 529 vs 80 U/L, P< 0.001), but there was no difference in survival during a median follow-up time of 16 months (range: 3–48 months) from stricture diagnosis. In conclusion, biliary strictures tend to occur within 6 months of transplantation and are an important cause of ongoing graft dysfunction. Non-anastomotic strictures were more common in patients requiring transplantation for primary sclerosing cholangitis.