Congenital intrahepatic bile duct dilatation is a potentially curable disease: long-term results of a multi-institutional study.
To report clinical presentation, perioperative outcome, and long-term results of surgical management of congenital intrahepatic bile duct (IHBD) dilatations (including Caroli disease) in a multi-institutional setting. Congenital IHBD dilatations are a rare congenital disorder predisposing to intrahepatic stones, cholangitis, and cholangiocarcinoma. The management remains difficult and controversial for bilobar forms of the disease or when concurrent congenital hepatic fibrosis is associated. From 1976 to 2004, 33 patients (range 11 to 79 years) were retrospectively enrolled. Disease extent into the liver was unilobar in 26 patients and bilobar in 7 patients (21%). Cholangiocarcinoma, congenital hepatic fibrosis, and intrahepatic stones were present in 2, 10, and 20 patients, respectively. Transplantations or liver resections were performed in 5 and 27 patients, respectively, whereas 1 asymptomatic patient was managed conservatively. Postoperative mortality was nil. Postoperative complications occurred in 16 of 32 operated patients (50%) and additional procedures for residual stones were required in 5 patients. During a median follow-up of 80 months (1 patient being lost for follow-up) no patient developed metachronous carcinoma. Six patients (30%) developed recurrent intrahepatic stones but satisfactory late outcome was achieved in 27 patients (87%). Partial or total liver resection achieves satisfactory late outcome in congenital IHBD dilatations, when the affection is treated at an early stage and when the extent of liver resection is tailored to intrahepatic disease extent and takes into consideration the presence and severity of underlying chronic liver and renal diseases.