Unilateral versus bilateral hilar stents for the treatment of cholangiocarcinoma: a multicenter international study

Authors Judith Staub, Ali Siddiqui, Megan Murphy, Robert Lam, Meet Parikh, Douglas Pleskow, Georgios Papachristou, Reem Sharaiha, Usama Iqbal, David Loren, Thomas Kowalski, Arish Noor, Tayebah Mumtaz, Ichiro Yasuda, Samuel Thomas, Abdul Haseeb, Jennifer Herrick, Tom Greene, Douglas G. Adler.


Background Endoscopic placement of hilar stents is an accepted palliative therapy for patients with advanced, unresectable cholangiocarcinoma. However, whether unilateral versus bilateral stent placement provides optimal relief continues to be a subject of debate. The aim of this study was to compare the technical and clinical outcomes in patients with inoperable cholangiocarcinoma who received unilateral or bilateral self-expanding metal stents (SEMS).

Methods We conducted a multicenter, international retrospective study of 187 patients with cholangiocarcinoma who received unilateral or bilateral SEMS. Outcomes included, but were not limited to, technical success, clinical success, adverse events, stent occlusion, and survival time.

Results were further stratified based on the Bismuth classification.

Results Fifty patients received unilateral stents and 137 patients received bilateral stents. All patients achieved technical success. The clinical success rates were 86% for unilateral stents and 82.5% for bilateral stents (P>0.99). Clinical success was not statistically different for either group when stratified by the Bismuth classification (P=0.62 and P=0.72 respectively). There were significantly more adverse events in the bilateral stents group (11.7% vs. 0%, P=0.007). There was no greater risk of stent occlusion when bilateral stents were used (unadjusted P=0.71, adjusted P=0.81). There was a greater risk of death for patients who received bilateral SEMS (hazard ratio 1.78, 95% confidence interval 1.09-2.89; P=0.02).

Conclusions Unilateral and bilateral drainage had similar technical and clinical success rates. However, bilateral stents had a higher risk of death and more adverse events. Therefore, unilateral SEMS placement is sufficient for relief of biliary obstruction secondary to cholangiocarcinoma.

Keywords Cholangiocarcinoma, self-expanding metal stent, hilar, unilateral, bilateral

Ann Gastroenterol 2020; 33 (2): 202-209

Original Articles