Background: The role of preoperative biliary drainage before liver resection in jaundiced patients remains controversial. The objective of this study is to compare the perioperative outcome of liver resection for carcinoma involving the proximal bile duct in jaundiced patients with and without preoperative biliary drainage. Methods: Seventy-four consecutive jaundiced patients underwent hepatectomy for carcinoma involving the proximal bile duct from January 1989 to June 2006 and their data were retrospectively analyzed. Fourteen patients underwent biliary drainage before portal vein embolization and were excluded from the study. Thirty patients underwent biliary drainage before hepatectomy and 30 underwent liver resection without preoperative biliary drainage. All patients underwent resection of the extrahepatic bile duct. Results: Overall mortality and operative morbidity were similar in the two groups (3% vs. 10%, p = 0.612 and 70% vs. 63%, p = 0.583, respectively). The incidence of noninfectious complications was similar in the two groups. There was no difference in hospital stay between the two groups. Patients with preoperative biliary drainage had a significantly higher rate of infectious complications (40% vs. 17%, p = 0.044). At multivariate analysis, preoperative biliary drainage was the only independent risk factor for infectious complication in the postoperative course (RR = 4.411, 95%CI = 1.216-16.002, p = 0.024). Even considering patients with preoperative biliary drainage in whom the bilirubin level went below 5 mg/dl, the risk of infectious complications was higher compared with patients without biliary drainage (47.6% vs. 16.6%, p = 0.017). Conclusions: Overall mortality and morbidity after liver resection are not improved by preoperative biliary drainage in jaundiced patients. Prehepatectomy biliary drainage increases the incidence of infectious complications.
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