Published online Apr 14, 2021. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i14.1507
Peer-review started: December 3, 2020
First decision: December 21, 2020
Revised: December 29, 2020
Accepted: March 18, 2021
Article in press: March 18, 2021
Published online: April 14, 2021
Whether to use a T-tube for biliary anastomosis during orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) remains a debatable question. Some surgeons chose to use a T-tube because they believed that it reduces the incidence of biliary strictures. Advances in surgical techniques during the last decades have significantly decreased the overall incidence of postoperative biliary complications. Whether using a T-tube during OLT is still associated with the reduced incidence of biliary strictures needs to be re-evaluated.
To provide an updated systematic review and meta-analysis on using a T-tube during adult OLT.
In the electronic databases MEDLINE, PubMed, Scopus, ClinicalTrials.gov, the Cochrane Library, the Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group Controlled Trails Register, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, we identified 17 studies (eight randomized controlled trials and nine comparative studies) from January 1995 to October 2020. The data of the studies before and after 2010 were separately extracted. We chose the overall biliary complications, bile leaks or fistulas, biliary strictures (anastomotic or non-anastomotic), and cholangitis as outcomes. Odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated to describe the results of the outcomes. Furthermore, the test for overall effect (Z) was used to test the difference between OR and 1, where P ≤ 0.05 indicated a significant difference between OR value and 1.
A total of 1053 subjects before 2010 and 1346 subjects after 2010 were included in this meta-analysis. The pooled results showed that using a T-tube reduced the incidence of postoperative biliary strictures in studies before 2010 (P = 0.012, OR = 0.62, 95%CI: 0.42-0.90), while the same benefit was not seen in studies after 2010 (P = 0.60, OR = 0.76, 95%CI: 0.27-2.12). No significant difference in the incidence of overall biliary complications (P = 0.37, OR = 1.41, 95%CI: 0.66-2.98), bile leaks (P = 0.89, OR = 1.04, 95%CI: 0.63-1.70), and cholangitis (P = 0.27, OR = 2.00, 95%CI: 0.59-6.84) was observed between using and not using a T-tube before 2010. However, using a T-tube appeared to increase the incidence of overall biliary complications (P = 0.049, OR = 1.49, 95%CI: 1.00-2.22), bile leaks (P = 0.048, OR = 1.91, 95%CI: 1.01-3.64), and cholangitis (P = 0.02, OR = 7.21, 95%CI: 1.37-38.00) after 2010. A random-effects model was used in biliary strictures (after 2010), overall biliary complications (before 2010), and cholangitis (before 2010) due to their heterogeneity (I2 = 62.3%, 85.4%, and 53.6%, respectively). In the sensitivity analysis (only RCTs included), bile leak (P = 0.66) lost the significance after 2010 and a random-effects model was used in overall biliary complications (before 2010), cholangitis (before 2010), bile leaks (after 2010), and biliary strictures (after 2010) because of their heterogeneity (I2 = 92.2%, 65.6%, 50.9%, and 80.3%, respectively).
In conclusion, the evidence gathered in our updated meta-analysis showed that the studies published in the last decade did not provide enough evidence to support the routine use of T-tube in adults during OLT.
Core Tip: This is the first meta-analysis that compared the postoperative outcomes with or without a T-tube in biliary reconstruction during orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) before and after 2010. Before 2010, T-tube was favorable for biliary stricture and had no influence on overall biliary complications, bile leaks, and cholangitis. After 2010, not using a T-tube was good for overall biliary complications and cholangitis; however, using a T-tube was not associated with biliary strictures and showed an unbeneficial trend for bile leaks. Therefore, the studies published in the last decade did not provide enough evidence to support the use of T-tube during adult OLT.