A novel approach to the management of late-onset liver failure in biliary atresia

Document Type



Paediatric Surgery


Purpose: Late-onset hyperbilirubinemia in patients who have undergone a successful portoenterostomy (PE) for biliary atresia (BA) is usually considered evidence of ongoing severe liver failure. The authors recently have treated 2 patients who had acute hyperbilirubinemia years and months after a successful PE and had dilated intrahepatic cysts. A combined operative and percutaneous approach reestablished drainage and a reduction in their bilirubin levels.
Methods: Data from 2 cases of BA and late-onset hyperbilirubinemia from obstruction were reviewed and analyzed.
Results: Two patients (15-year-old boy and a 2.5-year-old girl) presented with increasing serum bilirubin after a PE for BA in infancy. Both had extensive preoperative workup, which showed intrahepatic biliary dilatation in one and a large bile lake in the other. They underwent attempted percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography and stenting, followed by an intraoperative transhepatic approach in which the dilated ducts were connected to the PE. A rapid and sustained reduction in the serum bilirubin level was noted in these patients.
Conclusions: When patients with BA after a successful PE present with sudden onset of hyperbilirubinemia, imaging for biliary obstruction should be carried out. If biliary dilatation is found, then a combined radiologic and operative approach may help improve the bile flow and delay the need for liver transplant.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Pediatric Surgery