Is the End of the T-Tube Drainage Era in Laparoscopic Choledochotomy for Common Bile Duct Stones Is Coming? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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This study aims to compare the efficacy and safety of T-tube free (TTF) versus T-tube drainage (TTD) after laparoscopic common bile duct exploration (LCBDE).


LCBDE has been proven to be an effective and preferred treatment approach for uncomplicated choledocholithiasis, and the appropriateness of T-tube placement after laparoscopic choledochotomy for common bile duct (CBD) stones is still under debate.


A systematic literature search (PubMed, EMBASE, Science Citation Index, Springer-Link, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) was performed. Postoperative complications were evaluated/graded according to the modified Clavien classification. Other variables extracted including primary closures of the CBDs and the associated assistant methods, T-tube types, and placement durations. Stratified and sensitivity analyses were performed both to explore heterogeneity between studies and to assess the effects of the study qualities.


A total of 956 patients from 12 studies were included. The pooled odds ratio for postoperative complications and biliary-specific complications in TTF was found to be 0.59 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.38–0.91; P = 0.02], 0.62 (95% CI, 0.36–1.06; P = 0.08), respectively, when compared with TTD. Operative time and hospital stay were significantly decreased in the TTF group, with the pooled weighted mean differences being 18.84 minutes (95% CI, −27.01 to 10.67; P < 0.01) and 3.22 days (95% CI, −4.59 to 1.84; P < 0.01), respectively.


The results of this meta-analysis demonstrate that among patients undergoing laparoscopic choledochotomy for common bile duct stones, primary closure of the CBD alone is superior to TTD; however, there is no significant benefit in terms of primary duct closure with various internal or external drainage techniques. Further randomized controlled trials are eagerly awaited to prove these findings.

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