Selective MRCP and CT-targeted drainage of malignant hilar biliary obstruction with self-expanding metallic stents

Martin L. Freeman, Carol Overby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

188 Scopus citations


Background: Endoscopic management of malignant hilar biliary obstruction is controversial with respect to optimal types of stents and extent of drainage. This study evaluated outcomes of selective MRCP and CT-targeted drainage with self-expanding metallic stents. Methods: Consecutive patients undergoing attempted palliative ERCP for malignant hilar biliary obstruction were prospectively followed. Whenever possible, management strategy included evaluation and staging for potential resectability before ERCP, with primary placement of metallic stents at the first ERCP in nonsurgical candidates, and early conversion to a metallic stent when a tumor proved to be unresectable. MRCP and/or CT were used to plan selective guidewire access, opacification, and drainage only of the largest intercommunicating segmental ducts. Unilateral stent placement was intended in all cases except for selected patients with Bismuth II cholangiocarcinoma. Results: Thirty-five patients were included. Bismuth classification was I, 10; II, 6; III, 8; and IV, 11. Tumor origin was bile duct (17), gallbladder (5), and metastatic (13). Metallic stents were placed in 27 patients as the initial stent, and in 8 after plastic stent placement. Initial stents were placed endoscopically in 33 patients and percutaneously in 2 patients in whom lumenal tumor precluded ERCP. Stent placement was unilateral in 31 patients and bilateral in 4 patients. There were no episodes of cholangitis or other complications within 30 days after any procedures. Initial metallic stents were clinically effective in 27 (77%) of the 35 patients. Additional percutaneous drainage in 3 patients who did not respond to initial stent placement did not resolve jaundice. Median patency of first metallic stents was 8.9 months for patients with primary bile duct tumors and 5.4 months for all patients, and was not related to Bismuth classification. No further intervention was needed in 25 (71%) patients. Conclusions: Unilateral metallic stent placement by using MRCP and/or CT to selectively target drainage provides safe and effective palliation in most patients with malignant hilar biliary obstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-49
Number of pages9
JournalGastrointestinal endoscopy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2003


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