Background: Bile duct injury following cholecystectomy is an iatrogenic catastrophe which is associated with significant perioperative morbidity and mortality, reduced long-term survival and quality of life, and high rates of subsequent litigation. The aim of this article was to review the management of bile duct injury after cholecystectomy.
Methods: Medline and PubMed database search was undertaken to identify articles in English from 1970 to 2008 using the key words ‘bile duct injury’, ‘cholecystectomy’ and ‘classification’. Additional papers were identified by a manual search of the references from the key articles. Case report was excluded.
Results: Early recognition of bile duct injury is of paramount importance. Only 25%–32.4% of injuries are recognized during operation. The majority of patients present initially with non-specific symptoms. Management depends on the timing of recognition, the type, extent and level of the injury. Immediate recognition and repair are associated with improved outcome, and the minimum standard of care after recognition of bile duct injury is immediate referral to a surgeon experienced in bile duct injury repair. There is a growing body of literature supporting the importance of early referral to a tertiary care hospital which can provide a multidisciplinary approach to treat bile duct injury. Inadequate management may lead to severe complications.
Conclusions: None of the classification system is universally accepted as each has its own limitation. The optimal management depends on the timing of recognition of injury, the extent of bile duct injury, the patient's condition and the availability of experienced hepatobiliary surgeons.