Role for laparoscopy in the management of bile duct injuries

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Common bile duct (CBD) injury is the most serious complication of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Recently, laparoscopic techniques have been used in the management of postoperative bile leak and CBD injury; this literature has not been reviewed. We reviewed the literature on CBD injury, the approach to its diagnosis and management, and reports of laparoscopic management techniques. We combined this review with our experience in laparoscopic methods to highlight diagnostic and therapeutic options. Laparoscopic techniques can be used to prevent, diagnose and treat CBD injuries. Intraoperatively, CBD injury can be prevented in the case of short cystic duct with the use of a loop ligature or transfixing suture, and it can be diagnosed using intraoperative cholangiography or other visualization techniques. When CBD injury is suspected postoperatively, repeat laparoscopy can be used to control sepsis with abdominal washout; as a diagnostic tool to guide management; and, in some settings, as a therapeutic tool for suturing small duct leaks, drain insertion and postoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography with sphincterotomy. Definitive laparoscopic repair is possible when certain criteria are met. Open surgery should be considered when the CBD is small, the injury occurred more than 72 hours previously, injury or anatomy are complex, port positioning is awkward for repair, or local experience is limited with laparoscopic management. There is an emerging role for laparoscopy in the management of CBD injuries. More case reports and series are needed to show the safety and efficacy of this technique, encourage its wider adoption, and allow outcomes assessment on a larger scale.

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