Bronchobiliary fistula following radiofrequency ablation for liver metastases from breast cancer: A case report and literature review

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Abstract

Rationale:

Bronchobiliary fistula (BBF) is a rare clinical condition which is characterized by a channel between biliary tract and bronchial tree. BBF can present with fever, dyspnea, and cough. However, it can be easily misdiagnosed as biliary vomiting, dyspnea, or even severe pneumonia.

Patient concerns:

A 53-year-old woman was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2011 and underwent radical mastectomy and lymph node dissection, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Unfortunately, the patient suffered from bone metastasis during the 1st year and liver metastasis during the 2nd year after radical mastectomy. In 2013, the patient underwent transcatheter arterial chemoembolization therapy twice for liver metastasis. The patient was then treated with radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in 2016. Unfortunately, the patient developed a cough with bitter-tasting yellow sputum and chest tightness 2 weeks after the RFA treatment. Approximately 6 months later, the patient still complained of a cough with yellow sputum and persistent chest tightness. The patient was then admitted to our department.

Diagnoses:

The presence of bile in the sputum supported a diagnosis of BBF. Bronchoscopy was performed, and the presence of bile in the lavage fluid confirmed the diagnosis of BBF.

Interventions:

The patient was treated with antibiotics including sulbactam, cefoperazone, levofloxacin and meropenem, was well as hepatoprotectants, nutritional support and other supportive treatments in our department.

Outcomes:

The patient died because of liver failure.

Lessons:

This case demonstrates that we should consider the possibility of BBF when patients experience a recurrent cough with discolored sputum after RFA. In particular, a diagnosis of BBF should be considered in patients who do not respond to antibiotic treatment.

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