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Bile duct obstruction due to portal biliopathy in extrahepatic portal hypertension: surgical management.

BACKGROUND: Varices can develop in and around the bile duct in the presence of portal hypertension, especially when it is caused by extrahepatic portal vein thrombosis. The term 'portal biliopathy' is used to describe changes in the bile duct due to these varices, which may cause bile duct obstruction. This paper reviews experience of the surgical management of patients with symptomatic portal biliopathy.

METHODS: Nine patients with extrahepatic portal vein obstruction with symptomatic portal biliopathy. were reviewed retrospectively.

RESULTS: Eight patients presented with jaundice, two had abdominal pain and one had recurrent cholangitis. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiography revealed abnormality of the bile duct wall, with stricture in eight patients and bile duct calculi in two. Portasystemic shunting relieved jaundice in five of seven patients, and in two a second-stage hepaticojejunostomy was required.

CONCLUSION: Symptomatic biliary obstruction in patients with extrahepatic portal hypertension may be relieved by a portasystemic shunt. Rarely biliary bypass may be required and is rendered safer by previous portasystemic shunting to decompress the pericholedochal varices. A direct approach to the biliary tract without a preliminary shunt may be hazardous and is frequently unnecessary.

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