A systematic review of biodegradable biliary stents: promising biocompatibility without stent removal

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Biodegradable self-expanding stents are an emerging alternative to standard biliary stents as the development of endoscopic insertion devices advances. The aim was to systematically review the existing literature on biodegradable biliary stents. In-vivo studies on the use of biodegradable stents in the biliary duct were systematically reviewed from 1990 to 2017. Despite extensive research on the biocompatibility of stents, the experience so far on their clinical use is limited. A few favorable reports have recently been presented on endoscopically and percutaneously inserted self-expanding biodegradable polydioxanone stents in benign biliary strictures. Another potential indication appears to be postcholecystectomy leak of the cystic duct. The main benefit of biodegradable stents is that stent removal can be avoided. The biocompatibility of the current biodegradable stent materials, most prominently polydioxanone, is well documented. In the few studies currently available, biodegradable stents are reported to be feasible and safe, also in humans. The initial results of the endoscopic use of these stents in benign biliary stricture management and for treating postcholecystectomy bile leaks are promising. Further controlled studies on long-term clinical results and cost-effectiveness are needed.

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