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Palliation of proximal malignant biliary obstruction by endoscopic endoprosthesis insertion.
  1. A A Polydorou,
  2. S R Cairns,
  3. J F Dowsett,
  4. A R Hatfield,
  5. P R Salmon,
  6. P B Cotton,
  7. R C Russell
  1. Department of Gastroenterology, University College and Middlesex Hospital Medical School, London.


    For four years up to December 1987, 190 patients (median age 73 years) with proximal malignant biliary obstruction were treated by endoscopic endoprosthesis insertion. Altogether 101 had cholangiocarcinoma, 21 gall bladder carcinoma, 20 local spread of pancreatic carcinoma, and 48 metastatic malignancy. Fifty eight patients had type I, 54 type II, and 78 type III proximal biliary strictures (Bismuth classification). All patients were either unfit or unsuitable for an attempt at curative surgical resection. A single endoprosthesis was placed initially, with a further stent being placed only if relief of cholestasis was insufficient or sepsis developed in undrained segments. The combined percutaneous-endoscopic technique was used to place the endoprosthesis when appropriate, after failed endoscopic endoprosthesis insertion or for second endoprosthesis placement. Full follow up was available in 97%.Thirteen patients were still alive at the time of review and all but one had been treated within the past six months. Initial endoprosthesis insertion succeeded technically at the first attempt in 127 patients, at the second in 30, and at a combined procedure in a further 13 (cumulative total success rate 89% - type I: 93%; type II: 94%; and type III: 84%). There was adequate biliary drainage after single endoprosthesis insertion in 152 of the 170 successful placements, giving an overall successful drainage rate of 80%. Three patients had a second stent placed by combined procedure because of insufficient drainage, giving an overall successful drainage rate of 82% (155 of 190). The final overall drainage success rates were type I: 91%; type II: 83%; and type III: 73%. The early complication rates were type I: 7%; type II: 14%; and type III: 31%. The principle early complication was clinical cholangitis, which occurred in 13 patients (7%) and required second stent placement in five. The 30 day mortality was 22% overall (type I: 14%; type II: 15%; and type III: 32%) but the direct procedure related mortality was only 3%. Median survival overall for types I, II, and III strictures were 21, 12, and 10 weeks respectively but survival was significantly shorter for metastatic than primary malignancy (p<0.05). Endoscopic insertion of a single endoprosthesis will provide good palliation of proximal malignant biliary obstruction caused by unresectable malignancy in 80% of patients. Second stents should be placed only if required. Extensive structuring because of metastatic disease carries a poor prognosis and careful patient selection for treatment is requires.

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