Higher quality of life after metal stent placement compared with plastic stent placement for malignant extrahepatic bile duct obstruction: a randomized controlled trial

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For palliation of extrahepatic bile duct obstruction, self-expandable metal stents (SEMS) are superior to plastic stents in terms of stent patency and occurrence of stent dysfunction. We assessed health-related quality of life (HRQoL) after stent placement to investigate whether this also results in a difference in HRQoL between patients treated with a plastic stent or SEMS.

Patients and methods

This randomized multicenter trial included 219 patients who were randomized to receive plastic stent (n=73) or SEMS [uncovered (n=75) and covered (n=71); n=146] placement. HRQoL was assessed with two general questionnaires (EQ-5D-3L and QLQ-C30) and one disease-specific questionnaire (PAN-26). Scores were analyzed using linear mixed model regression and included all patients with baseline and at least one follow-up measurement.


HRQoL data were available in 140 of 219 patients (64%); 71 patients (32%) declined participation and in eight patients (4%) only baseline questionnaires were available. On the QLQ-C30, the interaction between follow-up time and type of stent was significantly different on two of five functional scales [physical functioning (P=0.004) and emotional functioning (P=0.01)] in favor of patients with a SEMS. In addition, patients with SEMS reported significantly less frequent symptoms of fatigue (P=0.01), loss of appetite (P=0.02), and nausea and vomiting (0.04) over time. The EQ-VAS score decreased with time in both treatment groups, indicating a statistically significant decrease in HRQoL over time.


In patients with inoperable malignant extrahepatic bile duct obstruction, SEMS placement results in better scores for general and disease-specific HRQoL over time compared with plastic stent placement.

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