Is Surgery Necessary? Endoscopic Management of Post-transplant Biliary Complications in the Modern Era

Alexander R. Cortez, Mackenzie C. Morris, Nicholas G. Brown, Leah K. Winer, Kamran Safdar, Sampath Poreddy, Shimul A. Shah, R. Cutler Quillin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Biliary complications are common following liver transplantation (LT) and traditionally managed with Roux-en-Y hepaticojejunostomy. However, endoscopic management has largely supplanted surgical revision in the modern era. Herein, we evaluate our experience with the management of biliary complications following LT. Methods: All LTs from January 2013 to June 2018 at a single institution were reviewed. Patients with biliary bypass prior to, or at LT, were excluded. Patients were grouped by biliary complication of an isolated stricture, isolated leak, or concomitant stricture and leak (stricture/leak). Results: A total of 462 grafts were transplanted into 449 patients. Ninety-five (21%) patients had post-transplant biliary complications, including 56 (59%) strictures, 28 (29%) leaks, and 11 (12%) stricture/leaks. Consequently, the overall stricture, leak, and stricture/leak rates were 12%, 6%, and 2%, respectively. Endoscopic management was pursued for all stricture and stricture/leak patients, as well as 75% of leak patients, reserving early surgery only for those patients with an uncontrolled leak and evidence of biliary peritonitis. Endoscopic management was successful in the majority of patients (stricture 94%, leak 90%, stricture/leak 90%). Only six patients (5.6%) received additional interventions—two required percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography catheters, three underwent surgical revision, and one was re-transplanted. Conclusions: Endoscopic management of post-transplant biliary complications resulted in long-term resolution without increased morbidity, mortality, or graft failure. Successful endoscopic treatment requires collaboration with a skilled endoscopist. Moreover, multidisciplinary transplant teams must develop treatment protocols based on the local availability and expertise at their center.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1639-1647
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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