Antegrade biliary stenting versus T-tube drainage after laparoscopic choledochotomy—a comparative cohort study

C N Tang, C K Tai, J P Y Ha, K K Tsui, D C T Wong, M K W Li
Hepato-gastroenterology 2006, 53 (69): 330-4

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Laparoscopic exploration of the common bile duct (LECBD) has been proven to be an effective and preferred treatment approach for uncomplicated common bile duct stones. However there is still controversy regarding the choice of biliary decompression after laparoscopic choledochotomy.

METHODOLOGY: This is a retrospective comparison between the use of antegrade biliary stenting and T-tube drainage following successful laparoscopic choledochotomy. During the period between January 1995 and July 2003, biliary decompression was achieved by either antegrade biliary stenting or T-tube drainage based on the discretion of the operating surgeon. For antegrade biliary stenting, a 10-Fr Cotton-Leung biliary stent was inserted through the choledochotomy and passed down across the papilla. The stent position was confirmed by on-table choledochoscopy before interrupted single-layered closure of the common bile duct. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) was performed to remove the stent 4 weeks after operation and at the same time to check for any residual stones or other complications like stricture or leak. In the T-tube group, a 16-Fr latex T-tube was used and the long limb was brought out through the subcostal trocar port followed by the same method of bile duct closure. Cholangiogram through the T-tube was performed on day 7 and the tube would be taken off 1 week later (about 2 weeks after operation) if the cholangiogram did not reveal any abnormality. The two groups were compared according to the demographic data, operation time, length of hospital stay and complication rates.

RESULTS: During the study period, 108 laparoscopic explorations of the common bile duct were performed in our centre of which 95 were attempted laparoscopic choledochotomies and 13 were transcystic duct explorations. Of the 95 patients with attempted laparoscopic choledochotomy, there were 9 open conversions, 17 laparoscopic bilioenteric bypasses and 6 primary closures of the common bile duct. All of these patients together with those receiving transcystic duct explorations were excluded and the remaining 63 patients having postoperative bile diversion by either antegrade biliary stenting or T-tube drainage were included in this study. Bile diversion was achieved by antegrade biliary stenting in 35 patients whereas 28 patients had T-tube drainage. There was no difference between the two groups in terms of age, clinical presentation, bilirubin level, length of hospital stay, follow-up duration, common bile duct size, size of common bile duct stones, incidence of residual/recurrent stone and complication rate. It was observed that more patients in the stenting group developed bile leak (14.2% vs. 3.5%) and required more intramuscular pethidine injections (182.86 +/- 139.30 vs. 92.81+/-81.15mg, P=0.000). On the other hand, the T-tube group had longer operation time (141.4+/-45.1 vs. 11 1.1+/-33.9 minutes, P=0.006) and had a longer postoperative hospital stay (10.0+/-7.4 vs. 8.8+/-9.3 days, P=0.020) reaching statistical significance.

CONCLUSIONS: Postoperative bile diversion by antegrade biliary stenting after laparoscopic choledochotomy is shown to shorten operation duration and postoperative stay as compared to T-tube drainage, but the problem of bile leak needs further refinement of insertion technique.

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