Background. Preexisting gallstones and pharmacologic alterations in both bile lithogenicity and immune function may predispose organ transplant recipients to the complications of biliary calculi. Methods. Records of all 178 patients undergoing heart, lung, or heart-lung transplantation at our institution between 1980 and 1998 were reviewed. Patients with biliary tract disease were grouped as follows: group I, pretransplantation diagnosis and treatment; group II, pretransplantation diagnosis and posttransplantation treatment; group III, normal pretransplantation biliary tree with posttransplantation diagnosis and treatment; group IV, unknown pretransplantation biliary status with posttransplantation diagnosis and treatment. Comparison among groups was made with regard to ultrasound findings, presentation, indication for operation, procedure, and outcome. Results. Of the 141 patients undergoing pretransplantation and/or posttransplantation ultrasound surveillance, the prevalence of abnormal ultrasonography was 36%. All patients in group I (n = 11) underwent elective intervention without complication. Of the 14 patients (groups II through IV) undergoing posttransplantation operation, intervention was mandated by acute complications of biliary tract disease in 7. The mortality rate in these 7 patients was 29%. Conclusions. Cholecystectomy in the posttransplantation period is often required emergently and has a high mortality. Posttransplantation surveillance of the biliary tree is crucial because of the high rate of de novo stone formation. All biliary calculi should be eradicated electively in stable patients before transplantation and on diagnosis after transplantation. (Surgery 2000;128:641-9.)
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*Reprint requests: Michael B. Farnell, MD, Professor of Surgery, Department of Surgery, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905.
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