The long-term outcome of the Kasai operation in patients with biliary atresia: a systematic review

E J Bijl, K D Bharwani, R H J Houwen, R A de Man
Netherlands Journal of Medicine 2013, 71 (4): 170-3

BACKGROUND: Biliary atresia (BA) is a progressive inflammatory destructive process of the bile ducts occurring in about one of every 20,000 live births. If left untreated, biliary atresia can lead to liver failure. The only effective treatments for BA at the moment are the Kasai operation and liver transplantation. Kasai portoenterostomy increases the survival of children with BA and postpones subsequent liver transplantation. Because long-term survival is rare, there is not much known about the long-term efficacy of the Kasai operation.

METHODS: The aim of this review was to study the outcome of patients with BA who survived more than 20 years on their native liver. We performed a systematic search on PubMed using MeSH terms for articles describing the long-term outcomes of patients with biliary atresia. We searched for patients who have lived at least 20 years with their native liver and we registered the number of complications. The endpoints identified in these articles were: death, cholangitis, portal hypertension and gastrointestinal bleeding.

RESULTS: From 53 articles we included 14 articles for analysis. In total 184 patients were above the age of 20 years. Of these 162 patients, 88% (162/184) were still alive with their native liver and 60.5% (98/162) were suffering from liver-related complications.

CONCLUSIONS: It is possible for patients with biliary atresia to survive more than 20 years on their native liver after undergoing the Kasai operation during early infancy. However, 60.5% of the long-term survivors alive on their native liver end up suffering from progressive liver-related complications.

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