Optimal therapy for patients with biliary atresia: Portoenterostomy ("Kasai" procedures) versus primary transplantation

R. Patrick Wood, Alan N. Langnas, Robert J. Stratta, Todd J. Pillen, Laurel Williams, Simone Lindsay, Diana Meiergerd, Byers W. Shaw

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67 Scopus citations


As the results with liver transplantation have improved, a controversy has arisen regarding the precise role of a portoenterostomy in the treatment of infants with biliary atresia. The controversy centers around three issues: (1) the short- and long-term survival rates achieved with both procedures, (2) the influence of a portoenterostomy on a subsequent transplant, and (3) the shortage of suitable liver donors for very small infants. To address these questions, we retrospectively reviewed the charts of 48 children with biliary atresia who underwent liver transplantation and compared these results with 35 children transplanted for other liver diseases. As a group, the biliary atresia patients had significantly lower mean body weights and ages and spent a significantly longer time on the waiting list. In addition, significantly more of the biliary atresia patients had undergone prior abdominal surgery when compared with the non-biliary atresia group. There was no difference in the intraoperative variables of mean anesthesia time, mean operative time, mean anesthesia preparation time, nor the mean amount of blood transfused intraoperatively between the two groups. However, when the biliary atresia patients who had undergone a portoenterostomy with a stoma were compared with either the biliary atresia patients who did not have a stoma created as part of their portoenterostomy or the non-biliary atresia patients, significant differences were noted in mean total anesthesia time, mean operative time, and the mean amount of blood transfused intraoperatively. The survival rate of the biliary atresia patients was significantly greater than the non-biliary atresia patients. The overall incidence of reoperations was not different between the two groups but reoperations on the biliary tract were significantly more common in the non-biliary atresia patients. Finally, when the biliary atresia patients who died while awaiting transplantation were compared with those who received transplants, the former group were found to be significantly younger and have a significantly lower mean body weight than the group who received transplants. Based on our data and a review of the literature, an algorithm is presented for the management of patients with biliary atresia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-162
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1990



  • Biliary atresia
  • hepatic portoenterostomy
  • liver transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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