Liver resection for perihilar cholangiocarcinoma: Impact of biliary drainage failure on postoperative outcome. Results of an Italian multicenter study

Published:February 20, 2021DOI:



      Preoperative biliary drainage may be essential to reduce the risk of postoperative liver failure after hepatectomy for perihilar cholangiocarcinoma. However, infectious complications related to preoperative biliary drainage may increase the risk of postoperative mortality. The strategy and optimal drainage method continues to be controversial.


      This is a retrospective multicenter study including patients who underwent hepatectomy for perihilar cholangiocarcinoma between 2000 and 2016 at 14 Italian referral hepatobiliary centers. The primary end point was to evaluate independent predictors for postoperative outcome in patients undergoing liver resection for perihilar cholangiocarcinoma after preoperative biliary drainage.


      Of the 639 enrolled patients, 441 (69.0%) underwent preoperative biliary drainage. Postoperative mortality was 8.9% (12.5% after right-side hepatectomy versus 5.7% after left-side hepatectomy; P = .003). Of the patients, 40.5% underwent preoperative biliary drainage at the first admitting hospital, before evaluation at referral centers. Use of percutaneous preoperative biliary drainage was significantly more frequent at referral centers than at community hospitals where endoscopic preoperative biliary drainage was the most frequent type. The overall failure rate after preoperative biliary drainage was 43.3%, significantly higher at community hospitals than that at referral centers (52.7% v 36.9%; P = .002). Failure of the first preoperative biliary drainage was one of the strongest predictors for postoperative complications after right-side and left-side hepatectomies and for mortality after right-side hepatectomy. Type of preoperative biliary drainage (percutaneous versus endoscopic) was not associated with significantly different risk of mortality.


      Failure of preoperative biliary drainage was significantly more frequent at community hospitals and it was an independent predictor for postoperative outcome. Centers’ experience in preoperative biliary drainage management is crucial to reduce the risk of failure that is closely associated with postoperative morbidity and mortality.
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