Diagnosis and management of choledochal cysts

Zachary J. Brown, Azarakhsh Baghdadi, Ihab Kamel, Hanna E. Labiner, D. Brock Hewitt, Timothy M. Pawlik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Choledochal cysts (CCs) are rare cystic dilatations of the intrahepatic and/or extrahepatic bile ducts. We review the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and management of CCs. Methods: MEDLINE/PubMed and Web of Science databases were queried for “choledochal cyst”, “bile duct cyst”, “choledochocele”, and “Caroli disease”. Data were synthesized and systematically reviewed. Results: Classified according to the Todani Classification, CCs are generally believed to arise secondary to reflux of pancreatic enzymes into the biliary tree due to anomalous pancreaticobiliary duct union. Complications of CCs include abdominal pain, jaundice, cystolithiasis, cholecystitis, pancreatitis, liver abscess, liver cirrhosis and malignant transformation (3–7.5%). Radiological and endoscopic imaging is the cornerstone of CC diagnosis and full delineation of cyst anatomy is imperative for proper management. Management is generally guided by cyst classification with complete cyst excision necessary for CCs with high potential of malignant transformation such as types I and IV. 5-year overall survival after choledochal cyst excision is 95.5%. Conclusion: Most CCs should undergo surgical intervention to mitigate the risk of cyst related complications such as cholangitis and malignant transformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-25
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Hepatology


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