The aim of the study was to assess long-term morbidity in children operated for choledochal malformation (CM) by relating clinical complications to liver histopathology, follow-up imaging, liver stiffness, and biochemistry.
A single-center retrospective follow-up study including all CM patients (n = 55, 71% girls) treated during 1976 to 2018 was performed. Mann-Whitney U test and Spearman rank correlation were used for statistical analyses.
During median follow-up of 5.8 (interquartile range, 2.5–12) years, 1 patient was lost to follow-up whereas all survived. Intraoperative liver biopsies showed fibrosis in 32%, and patients with Metavir stage ≥2 were younger at surgery (0.36 [0.11–1.9] vs 3.8 [0.72–10.5] years, P = 0.024) than those without fibrosis. Overall, 21% had long-term complications including cholangitis in 9 (>2 episodes in 5) patients, anastomotic stricture in 2 referred patients and adhesive volvulus or hepatocellular carcinoma in 1 each. Anastomotic strictures were successfully managed nonoperatively and hepatocellular carcinoma with thermoablation. In postoperative magnetic resonance cholangiography (MRCP) performed 6.4 (3.6–16) years after hepaticojejunostomy, diameters of both main intrahepatic ducts had decreased significantly to 3.0 (2.5–3.5) mm (P = 0.0001) but a distal cyst stump was remaining in 30% with a length of 6.0 (4.0–20) mm that associated with operation age (r = 0.71, P = 0.015) and fusiform CM type. Follow-up ultrasound revealed mild dilation of intrahepatic bile ducts in 6.3% and mildly to moderately elevated liver biochemistry in 23%, and liver stiffness (>7 kPa) in 22%.
Whilst cholangitis was the most common postoperative problem, individual patients experienced other more significant complications and one quarter of patients showed evidence of underlying liver dysfunction.