Cholangiocarcinoma and dominant strictures in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis: a 25-year single-centre experience

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Abstract

Background

Dominant biliary strictures occur commonly in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), who have a high risk of developing cholangiocarcinoma (CC). The natural history and optimal management of dominant strictures remain unclear, with some reports suggesting that endoscopic interventions improve outcome.

Methods

We describe a 25-year experience in patients with PSC-related dominant strictures at a single tertiary referral centre.

Results

A total of 128 patients with PSC (64% men, mean age at referral 49 years) were followed for a mean of 9.8 years. Eighty patients (62.5%) with dominant biliary strictures had a median of 3 (range 0–34) interventions, compared with 0 (0–7) in the 48 patients without dominant strictures (P<0.001). Endoscopic interventions included the following: (i) stenting alone (46%), (ii) dilatation alone (20%), (iii) dilatation and stenting (17%) and (iv) none or failed intervention (17%, of whom most required percutaneous transhepatic drainage). The major complication rate for endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography was low (1%). The mean survival of those with dominant strictures (13.7 years) was worse than that for those without dominant strictures (23 years), with much of the survival difference related to a 26% risk of CC developing only in those with dominant strictures. Half of those with CC presented within 4 months of the diagnosis of PSC, highlighting the importance of a thorough evaluation of new dominant strictures.

Conclusion

Repeated endoscopic therapy in PSC patients is safe, but the prognosis remains worse in the subgroup with dominant strictures. In our series, dominant strictures were associated with a high risk of developing CC.

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