Diminished Survival in Patients with Bile Leak and Ductal Injury: Management Strategy and Outcomes

California Cholecystectomy Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Background: The increased incidence of bile duct injuries (BDIs) after the adoption of laparoscopic cholecystectomy has been well documented. However, the longitudinal impact of bile leaks and BDIs on survival and healthcare use have not been studied adequately. The aims of this analysis were to determine the incidence, long-term outcomes, and costs of bile leaks and ductal injuries in a large population. Study Design: The California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development database was queried from 2005 to 2014. Bile leaks, BDIs, and their management strategy were defined. Survival was calculated by Kaplan-Meier failure estimates with multivariable regression and propensity analyses. Cost analyses used inflation adjustments and institution-specific cost-to-charge ratios. Results: Of 711,454 cholecystecomies, bile leaks occurred in 3,551 patients (0.50%) and were managed almost exclusively by endoscopists. Bile duct injuries occurred in 1,584 patients (0.22%) with 84% managed surgically. Patients with a bile leak were more likely to die at 1 year (2.4% vs 1.4%; odds ratio 1.85; p < 0.001). Similarly, BDI patients had an increased 1-year mortality (7.2% vs 1.3%; odds ratio 2.04; p < 0.0001). Survival of BDI patients was better with an operative approach (odds ratio 0.19; p < 0.001) when compared with endoscopic management. Operatively managed BDIs were also associated with fewer emergency department visits and readmissions, as well as lower cumulative costs at 1 year ($60,539 vs $118,245; p < 0.001). Conclusions: The 0.22% incidence of BDIs observed in California is lower than reported in the first decade after the introduction of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Bile leaks are 2.3 times more common than BDIs. Patients with a bile leak or BDI have diminished survival. Surgical repair of a BDI leads to enhanced survival and reduced cumulative cost compared with endoscopic management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-576.e1
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


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