A series of 27 patients with complex biliary problems secondary to previous biliary operations is presented. The patients are divided into two groups: (1) patients with acute perioperative biliary problems; all had biliary leak with abscess, biliary cutaneous fistula, and/or stricture following cholecystectomy or common duct exploration and (2) patients with chronic postoperative biliary problems; all had previous repair of biliary stricture or injuries with late stricture formation. Early management of all patients included placement of a percutaneous biliary stent. Abscesses were drained operatively, and biliary leaks or fistulas were allowed to close spontaneously. Jaundice and cholangitis were allowed to resolve. Following stabilization, management of stricture, if present, was addressed. Eight acute patients had strictures, of which four were partial and three were dilated percutaneously. Four were complete and required operative repair. All 12 chronic patients had strictures, of which six were partial and successfully managed with percutaneous dilatation. Four patients also had common duct stones which were successfully crushed percutaneously. The authors conclude that percutaneous transhepatic drainage offers significant advantages in the early stabilization and treatment of patients with complex biliary problems, and that partial strictures of the biliary tree may be managed successfully by percutaneous dilatation.
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