An Italian survey on the use of T-tube in liver transplantation: old habits die hard!

Riccardo Pravisani, Paolo De Simone, Damiano Patrono, Andrea Lauterio, Matteo Cescon, Enrico Gringeri, Michele Colledan, Fabrizio Di Benedetto, Fabrizio di Francesco, Barbara Antonelli, Tommaso Maria Manzia, Amedeo Carraro, Marco Vivarelli, Enrico Regalia, Giovanni Vennarecci, Nicola Guglielmo, Manuela Cesaretti, Alfonso Wolfango Avolio, Maria Filippa Valentini, Quirino LaiUmberto Baccarani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is enough clinical evidence that a T-tube use in biliary reconstruction at adult liver transplantation (LT) does not significantly modify the risk of biliary stricture/leak, and it may even sustain infective and metabolic complications. Thus, the policy on T-tube use has been globally changing, with progressive application of more restrictive selection criteria. However, there are no currently standardized indications in such change, and many LT Centers rely only on own experience and routine. A nation-wide survey was conducted among all the 20 Italian adult LT Centers to investigate the current policy on T-tube use. It was found that 20% of Centers completely discontinued the T-tube use, while 25% Centers used it routinely in all LT cases. The remaining 55% of Centers applied a selective policy, based on criteria of technical complexity of biliary reconstruction (72.7%), followed by low-quality graft (63.6%) and high-risk recipient (36.4%). A T-tube use > 50% of annual caseload was not associated with high-volume Center status (> 70 LT per year), an active pediatric or living-donor transplant program, or use of DCD grafts. Only 10/20 (50%) Centers identified T-tube as a potential risk factor for complications other than biliary stricture/leak. In these cases, the suspected pathogenic mechanism comprised bacterial colonization (70%), malabsorption (70%), interruption of the entero-hepatic bile-acid cycle (50%), biliary inflammation due to an indwelling catheter (40%) and gut microbiota changes (40%). In conclusion, the prevalence of T-tube use among the Italian LT Centers is still relatively high, compared to the European trend (33%), and the potential detrimental effect of T-tube, beyond biliary stricture/leak, seems to be somehow underestimated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1381-1389
JournalUpdates in Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Bile acids
  • Biliary complications
  • Survey
  • T-tube

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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