JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

T-tube drainage versus primary closure after open common bile duct exploration

Kurinchi Selvan Gurusamy, Rahul Koti, Brian R Davidson
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013 June 21, (6): CD005640
23794200

BACKGROUND: Between 5% and 11% of people undergoing cholecystectomy have common bile duct stones. Stones may be removed at the time of cholecystectomy by opening and clearing the common bile duct. The optimal technique is unclear.

OBJECTIVES: The aim is to assess the benefits and harms of T-tube drainage versus primary closure without biliary stent after open common bile duct exploration for common bile duct stones.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group Controlled Trials Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) in The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Science Citation Index Expanded until April 2013.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included all randomised clinical trials comparing T-tube drainage versus primary closure after open common bile duct exploration.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two of four authors independently identified the studies for inclusion and extracted data. We analysed the data with both the fixed-effect and the random-effects model using Review Manager (RevMan) analyses. For each outcome we calculated the risk ratio (RR), rate ratio (RaR), or mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence interval (CI) based on intention-to-treat analysis.

MAIN RESULTS: We included six trials randomising 359 participants, 178 to T-tube drainage and 181 to primary closure. All trials were at high risk of bias. There was no significant difference in mortality between the two groups (4/178 (weighted percentage 1.2%) in the T-tube group versus 1/181 (0.6%) in the primary closure group; RR 2.25; 95% CI 0.55 to 9.25; six trials). There was no significant difference in the serious morbidity rate between the two groups (24/136 (weighted serious morbidity rate, 145 events per 1000 patients) in the T-tube group versus 9/136 (weighted serious morbidity rate, 66 events per 1000 patients) in the primary closure group; RaR 2.19; 95% CI 0.98 to 4.91; four trials). Quality of life and return to work were not reported in any of the trials. The operating time was significantly longer in the T-tube drainage group compared with the primary closure group (MD 28.90 minutes; 95% CI 17.18 to 40.62 minutes; one trial). The hospital stay was significantly longer in the T-tube drainage group compared with the primary closure group (MD 4.72 days; 95% CI 0.83 days to 8.60 days; five trials).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: T-tube drainage appeared to result in significantly longer operating time and hospital stay compared with primary closure without any apparent evidence of benefit on clinically important outcomes after open common bile duct exploration. Based on the currently available evidence, there is no justification for the routine use of T-tube drainage after open common bile duct exploration in patients with common bile duct stones. T-tube drainage should not be used outside well designed randomised clinical trials. More randomised trials comparing the effects of T-tube drainage versus primary closure after open common bile duct exploration may be needed. Such trials should be conducted with low risk of bias and assessing the long-term beneficial and harmful effects of T-tube drainage, including long-term complications such as bile stricture and recurrence of common bile duct stones.

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