Endoscopic therapy of anastomotic bile duct strictures occurring after liver transplantation

David A. Schwartz, Bret T. Petersen, John J. Poterucha, Christopher J. Gostout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Background: Optimal therapy for anastomotic biliary strictures occurring after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) remains to be defined. We reviewed our experience with endoscopic therapy for such strictures and contrasted it with reported data. Methods: Endoscopic therapy was performed with balloon dilation alone; no patients received an endoprosthesis. Responses were characterized as good if the patient improved clinically and no subsequent procedures were required after one or more dilations within a 3-month period; partial if clinically significant obstruction resolved but cholestasis persisted or there was a need for further endoscopic management beyond the initial 3 months; poor if subsequent surgery or percutaneous procedures were required; and failed if endoscopic access or dilation could not be accomplished. Results: Fifteen patients underwent 23 endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatographies for post-OLT anastomotic strictures. Postprocedure follow-up averaged 25.2 months. Cholangiography was successful in all 23 procedures; free duct access was achieved in 22 of 23 procedures. The strictures were successfully accessed for dilation in 11 of 15 patients and in 19 of 23 procedures. Outcome was deemed good in 4 (27%), partial in 3 (20%), and poor in 5 (33%) patients. Endoscopic therapy failed in 3 (20%). Poor outcomes were due to the early recognition of severe lesions (2 treated surgically) or to short-term responses to dilation alone (3). The procedural complication rate of 17.4% included 3 episodes of transient cholangitis (i.e., elevation of liver enzymes associated with fever that lasted less than 3 days) and 1 self-limited episode of postsphincterotomy bleeding, which required the transfusion of 2 units packed red blood cells. In published series the combined success rate of balloon dilation alone for treatment of anastomotic strictures is 41%, whereas for dilation plus stent placement it is 75%. Conclusion: Endoscopic balloon dilation alone is not a reliable method of therapy for anastomotic strictures occurring after OLT. Dilation followed by short- to intermediate-term stent placement appears to provide a more durable result.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-174
Number of pages6
JournalGastrointestinal endoscopy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Gastroenterology


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