Recurrent Hepatitis C and Biliary Tract Strictures

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While the main effect of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is hepatitis, HCV is also known to cause a variety of systemic immunologic inflammatory abnormalities. The effect of HCV infection on the biliary tract after liver transplantation (LT) is not well understood. The aim of the current study is to determine if recurrence of hepatitis C affects biliary complications after LT, with special reference to late biliary anastomotic strictures (LBAS).


A total of 688 consecutive adult LT recipients with a choledochocholedochostomy without T-tube placement between 1990 and 2005 were reviewed. Biliary anastomotic stricture was confirmed by endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. LBAS was defined as stricture that occurred 30 days or more after LT. Early HCV recurrence was defined as recurrence within 6 months after LT.


LBAS occurred in 55 patients (8% of total). Patients with HCV infection had a higher occurrence of LBAS than non-HCV patients (11% vs. 5%,P=0.0093). Among HCV patients, those with early HCV recurrence had an exceedingly high rate of LBAS (16%). In multivariate analyses, early recurrence of hepatitis C (P<0.0001), as well as occurrence of hepatic artery thrombosis (P=0.0018) and prolonged cold ischemic time (P=0.034), were independent risk factors affecting LBAS. Among HCV patients, those with LBAS had a significantly higher hepatitis activity index score (3.1 vs. 1.4,P<0.0001) and fibrosis stage (0.9 vs. 0.4,P<0.0001) as compared to patients without LBAS.


Patients with early recurrence of HCV have increased occurrence of late biliary anastomotic stricture after liver transplantation.

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