Predicting Efficacy of Plastic Stents for Posttransplantation Biliary Strictures

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Abstract

Background:

Biliary strictures (BS) are a common complication of liver transplantation. The standard treatment is sequential insertion of increasing numbers of plastic stents by endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Despite high success rates, some strictures fail to resolve and require surgery as definitive treatment.

Goals:

To identify predictors of response or failure of standard endoscopic treatment, allowing earlier referral to alternative modalities when needed and avoiding unnecessary procedures.

Study:

Database of Gastroenterology Department at Tel Aviv Medical Center was retrospectively reviewed, and data regarding patients who underwent liver transplantation and developed BS were analyzed.

Results:

Thirty-one patients met the study criteria. Twenty-four (77.4%) resolved with plastic stenting and 7 ultimately required surgery. There were no significant differences between stent responders and nonresponders regarding demographics, transplant and postoperative hospitalization data, time from transplantation to presentation with stricture, total number of ERCP sessions, or maximal number of stents.

Results:

A trend toward difference was noted in the time elapsed between the first and the second ERCP, whereby ERCP nonresponders required a second procedure sooner than responders. Patients presenting to their second procedure as scheduled ultimately had a 95% endoscopic success rate, whereas those presenting urgently with acute cholangitis had a 55% failure rate (P=0.02).

Conclusions:

Urgent repeat ERCP is a harbinger of ultimate failure of plastic stent treatment for BS after liver transplant. This finding may assist earlier triage of these patients toward alternative treatment such as metal stents or surgery, thus sparing needless procedures and complications.

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