Biliary cast syndrome post–liver transplantation: risk factors and outcome

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Biliary cast syndrome (BCS) is characterized by the retention of lithogenic material leading to obstructive cholangitis and subsequent liver damage. BCS after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) can lead to retransplantation or death.


Evaluation of aetiology, risk factors and outcome of BCS after OLT.


In a retrospective single centre analysis between 2002 and 2011, all OLT patients with BCS diagnosed by endoscopic retrograde cholangiography were identified and compared with a matched control group at a 2:1 ratio.


Thirty patients with BCS after OLT were identified (30/887, 3.4%). Seventy per cent of those patients (21/30) underwent transplantation in the Model for Endstage Liver Disease (MELD) score era. Median time to diagnosis after OLT was 255 days (IQR 107–621). Intensive care unit treatment after OLT was significantly longer in BCS patients [16 days (IQR 8–42) vs. 9 (IQR 7–17) days; P = 0.039]. In a multivariate analysis, hepatic artery stenosis (P = 0.04), biliary strictures (P = 0.032) and need for renal replacement therapy (P = 0.002) were significantly associated with BCS. Immunosuppressant regimen, operation time, cold or warm ischaemia time, graft size, acute cellular rejection and cytomegalovirus infections were not significantly different between both groups. Retransplantation rate and 12-month mortality were significantly higher with BCS (9/30, 30% vs. 4/60, 7%, P = 0.003).


BCS is a rare, but severe complication after OLT. Patients with hepatic artery stenosis, biliary strictures or renal replacement therapy have the highest risk to develop BCS and should therefore be monitored carefully.

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