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May 1994

The Spectrum of Biliary Tract Disorders in Infants and ChildrenExperience With 300 Cases

Author Affiliations

From the Section of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, and the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis.

Arch Surg. 1994;129(5):513-520. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1994.01420290059009

Objective:  To assess the results of surgical treatment of infants and children with biliary tract disease.

Design:  The records of children with biliary tract disorders requiring surgical intervention were reviewed retrospectively. Diagnosis, age, sex, clinical presentation, treatment, and outcome were evaluated.

Setting:  A large pediatric referral facility.

Patients:  A total of 300 patients treated from 1972 through 1993 were evaluated, including 102 with biliary atresia, 29 with choledochal cyst, and 169 with cholelithiasis. Hepatic portoenterostomy was performed in 87 patients with biliary atresia, and biopsy alone was performed in 15. Twenty girls and nine boys, 50% of whom were younger than 3 years, had choledochal cyst. Operative management included cyst excision and hepatojejunostomy in 25 patients, cyst jejunostomy in two patients, cystduodenostomy in one patient, and choledochocele excision in one patient. Gallstones were observed in 106 girls and 63 boys; 28 were aged 0 to 5 years, 31 were aged 6 to 10 years, and 110 were aged 11 to 18 years. Open cholecystectomy was performed in 143 patients, and laparoscopic cholecystectomy was performed in 26 patients.

Main Outcome Measures:  Principal outcomes examined were surgical morbidity and mortality.

Results:  Hepatic portoenterostomy was successful in 28 (32%) of 87 patients with biliary atresia (all younger than 3 months), and 23 showed improvement following hepatic portoenterostomy; hepatic portoenterostomy failed in 36 patients. Twenty-eight (82.3%) of 34 patients survived liver transplantation. Overall survival was 71.5%. Survival of patients with choledochal cyst was 96.4% (28/29). Cholecystectomy was successful in all 169 patients. There were eight complications and one death (0.59% mortality).

Conclusion:  Survival in patients with biliary atresia (71%) has improved with hepatic portoenterostomy complemented by liver transplantation. Hepatic portoenterostomy is the procedure of choice in infants younger than 3 months. An improved outlook for patients with choledochal cyst can be expected after cyst excision and hepatojejunostomy. Gallstones are relatively common in children. Both open and laparoscopic cholecystectomy are safe and effective procedures in children.(Arch Surg. 1994;129:513-520)

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