OBJECTIVE: To assess the clinical benefits of preoperative endoscopic nasobiliary drainage (ENBD) in patients with perihilar cholangiocarcinoma. BACKGROUND: The advantages of ENBD have been previously reported. However, no studies to date have examined a large number of patients, including those with Bismuth-Corlette (B-C) type III to IV tumors. In addition, sufficient data on the risk factors associated with ENBD complications are not available. METHODS: This study involved 164 consecutive patients with suspected perihilar cholangiocarcinoma (128 patients with B-C type III-IV tumors) who had undergone unilateral ENBD between January 2007 and December 2010. The success and efficacy of this procedure and the risk factors for post-ENBD cholangitis and pancreatitis were retrospectively evaluated. RESULTS: The ENBD procedure was successful in 153 (93.3%) of the 164 patients. Of these 164 patients, 65 had serum total bilirubin (TB) levels of 2.0 mg/dL or more before the drainage. The first unilateral ENBD was successfully performed in 60 of the 65 patients, and the TB level decreased to less than 2.0 mg/dL after ENBD in 50 of these 60 patients (83.3%). The significant predictive factors for ENBD efficacy included the pre-ENBD TB level (P = 0.032; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01-1.23) and post-ENBD cholangitis (P = 0.012; 95% CI, 1.61-43.2). Post-ENBD cholangitis occurred in 47 (28.8%) of the 163 patients, and a previous endoscopic sphincterotomy (EST) was found to be a significant risk factor for post-ENBD cholangitis (P = 0.008; 95% CI, 1.30-5.46). Post-ENBD pancreatitis occurred in 33 (20.1%) of the 164 patients (26 grade 1 patients, 4 grade 2 patients, and 3 grade 3 patients). The significant risk factors included undergoing pancreatography (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 2.44-31.1) and the absence of previous EBS or ENBD (P < 0.001; 95% CI, 3.03-29.2). CONCLUSIONS: Unilateral ENBD of the future remnant lobe(s) exhibited a high success rate, suggesting that it is an effective and suitable preoperative drainage method for perihilar cholangiocarcinoma even in patients with B-C type III to IV tumors. To reduce the postprocedural complications, ENBD should be performed without EST or pancreatography.
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