Patient and Graft Survival: Biliary Complications after Liver Transplantation

Michael Senter-Zapata, Adeel S. Khan, Tanvi Subramanian, Neeta Vachharajani, Leigh Anne Dageforde, Jason R. Wellen, Surendra Shenoy, Maria B. Majella Doyle, William C. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background: Biliary complications (BCs) affect up to to 34% of liver transplant recipients and are a major source of morbidity and cost. This is a 13-year review of BCs after liver transplantation (LT) at a tertiary care center. Study Design: We conducted a single-center retrospective review of our prospective database to assess BCs in adult (aged 18 years or older) liver transplant recipients during a 13-year period (2002 to 2014). Biliary complications were divided into 3 subgroups: leak alone (L), stricture alone (S), and both leak and strictures (LS). Controls (no BCs) were used for comparison. Results: There were 1,041 adult LTs performed during the study period; BCs developed in 239 (23%) of these patients: 55 (23%) L, 148 (62%) S, and 36 (15%) LS. One hundred and two (43%) were early (less than 30 d). Surgical revision was required in 42 cases (17%) (30 L, 10 LS, and 2 S), while the remaining 197 (83%) were managed nonsurgically (25 L, 26 LS, and 146 S), with a mean of 4.2 interventions/patient. One-, 3-, and 5-year overall patient and graft survival was significantly reduced in patients with bile leaks (84%, 71%, and 68% and 76%, 67%, and 64%, respectively) compared with controls (90%, 84%, and 78% and 88%, 81%, and 76%, respectively [p < 0.05]). Patients with BCs had higher incidence of cholestatic liver disease, higher pre-LT bilirubin, higher use of T-tubes, higher use of donor after cardiac death grafts, and higher rates of acute rejection (p < 0.05). Patients with BCs had longer ICU and hospital stays and higher rates of 30- and 90-day readmissions (p < 0.01). Multivariate analysis identified cholestatic liver disease, Roux-en-Y anastomosis, donor risk index >2, and T-tubes as independent BC predictors. Conclusions: Biliary complications after LT can significantly decrease patient and graft survival rates. Careful donor and recipient selection and attention to anastomotic technique can reduce BCs and improve outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-494
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


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