Management of biliary obstruction in patients with unresectable carcinoma of the pancreas

P. C. McGrath, P. M. Mcneill, J. P. Neifeld, H. D. Bear, G. A. Parker, M. A. Turner, J. S. Horsley, W. Lawrence

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22 Scopus citations


Clinical and pathologic data from 73 patients with unresectable carcinoma of the pancreas treated from 1980 to 1987 were reviewed to evaluate the efficacy of biliary enteric bypass and percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage (PTBD) in the treatment of malignant biliary obstruction. Fifty-two patients underwent biliary enteric bypass with no operative deaths and with a 15% operative morbidity. These patients had a median postoperative hospitalization of 12 days. Four patients (8%) eventually developed recurrent jaundice, and three of these were succesfully treated with PTBD. The median survival for these 52 patients was 7 months. Twenty-one patients underwent PTBD with an 81% technical-success rate. These patients had a 33% early complication rate and a 33% in-hospital mortality. The median hospitalization was 13 days postdrainage. Of the 14 patients surviving the initial hospitalization, 86% developed late complications requiring 16 hospital admissions and ten emergency room visits for a total of 155 days of hospitalization. The median survival for those patients undergoing PTBD was 4 months from the time of diagnosis and 2 months from the time of catheter drainage. Surgical bypass offers excellent palliation for malignant biliary obstruction with extremely low morbidity and mortality in properly selected patients; PTBD is useful in the treatment of those patients with extensive disease, who are poor surgical candidates, or who have failed previous surgical drainage. There is a role for both of these palliative procedures in the management of patients with biliary obstruction from pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-288
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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