Palliative Locoregional Treatment for Unresectable Nonmetastatic Klatskin Tumor: Percutaneous Transhepatic Biliary Drainage Combined With 3-dimensional Conformal Radiotherapy

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This study aimed to identify the effect of percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage (PTBD) combined with 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) in comparison with PTBD therapy only on the treatment of unresectable Klatskin tumors (KTs).

Materials and Methods:

Thirty-seven patients with unresectable KTs were included in the study. Twenty-six patients received PTBD and 3D-CRT successively, whereas the other 11 patients received PTBD only. Changes in the clinical symptoms after the PTBD treatment, the radiotherapy effect, and the survival time were recorded and analyzed.


The clinical symptoms of the 2 groups gradually decreased after the PTBD treatment. The radiotherapy effect showed an overall effective rate (complete response+partial response) of 17 (65.38%), and the serum carbohydrate antigen-19-9 levels before and after 3D-CRT were significantly different (P<0.001). The mean survival time of the PTBD group was 11.27 months; the 1- and 2-year cumulative survival rates were 36.4% and 9.1%, respectively. The mean survival time of the combined therapy group was 22.77 months; the 1-, 2-, and 3-year cumulative survival rates were 53.8%, 38.5%, and 11.5%, respectively. The log-rank test showed that the patients who received combined therapy had longer survival time than the patients who only received PTBD (P=0.001).


Patients with unresectable KTs who underwent PTBD could relieve biliary obstruction effectively. Although this study is not a randomized trial, 3D-CRT combined with PTBD seems to be a promising and an effective method as a palliative treatment for unresectable KTs.

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