Conventional methods for treating patients with recurrent hepatolithiasis associated with complicated intrahepatic biliary strictures include balloon dilatation of the intrahepatic biliary strictures, lithotripsy, and the clearance of difficult stones as completely as possible, with the placement of an external-internal stent for at least 6 months. After these modalities are used, symptomatic refractory strictures remain. Recently we used internal Gianturco-Rosch metallic Z stents to treat patients who had refractory strictures.
To compare therapeutic results and complications of an internal expandable metallic Z stent with those of repeated external-internal stent placement.
A referral center.
From January 1992 to December 1996, 18 patients with recurrent hepatolithiasis and complicated intrahepatic biliary strictures underwent percutaneous dilatation of stricture and transhepatic percutaneous cholangioscopic lithotomy for recurrent stones. After their stones were completely cleared, their biliary strictures failed to dilate satisfactorily. The patients were randomly enrolled into 2 groups: group A (7 patients), who received an expandable metallic Z stent, and group B (11 patients), who had repeated placement of external-internal stents.
Percutaneous stricture dilatation, electrohydraulic lithotripsy, balloon dilatation, percutaneous transhepatic cholangioscopic lithotomy, and biliary stenting by a Silastic external-internal catheter or a modified Gianturco-Rosch expandable metallic Z stent (for an internal stent).
Main Outcome Measures
The number of procedures, days in hospital, procedure-related complications, incidents of stone recurrence and recurrence of cholangitis, readmissions to the hospital, treatment sessions required, and mortality rate. Patients' limitations in ordinary activities were also compared.
The follow-up period ranged from 28 to 60 (40.7±12.7 [mean±SD]) months in group A and from 28 to 49 (36.0±7.2) months in group B. Fewer group A patients (3 [43%]) than group B patients (8 [73%]) tended to have recurrent cholangitis and to require readmission to the hospital, but this was not statistically significant (P=.33). When their cumulative probability of a first episode of cholangitis during follow-up was compared, however, it was significantly lower in patients treated with a metallic stent (P=.04). Compared with group B patients, group A patients had less frequent recurrence of stones (0% vs 64%; P=.01), fewer procedures for the clearance of biliary stones or sludge (1.7±2.2 vs 6.4±4.3; P=.03), and shorter hospital stays (8.0±11.5 days vs 17.0±12.0 days; P=.07). No patients in group A experienced limitation in ordinary activities, whereas 7 patients in group B did (P<.02).
Compared with the repeated placement of external-internal stents, the use of a metallic internal stent effectively decreases stone recurrence, simplifies further procedures, and is more convenient. Its use is suggested as an alternative choice in the treatment of recurrent hepatolithiasis with refractory intrahepatic biliary strictures.