Plastic versus metal stents for inoperable gallbladder cancer with hilar biliary obstruction: the jury is still out

Authors Ashish Kumar Jha, Praveen Jha, Sharad Jha, Ravi Keshari.


In unresectable malignant hilar obstruction, adequate biliary drainage can be achieved with endoscopic placement of plastic or metal stents. Stent patency and patient survival may differ, depending on the primary disease, disease progression and stent type. Metal and plastic stents were compared in patients with malignant hilar strictures in several studies, but these studies mainly included patients who had cholangiocarcinoma, without taking into consideration potential differences in the invasion properties of tumor cells, histological differentiation and the biological behavior of different tumors. Gallbladder cancer (GBC) is the most common malignancy of the biliary tract, especially in the Indian subcontinent and Latin America. About half the patients with GBC present with jaundice, which usually means the tumor is inoperable. Palliative endoscopic stenting remains the first-line treatment of unresectable GBC with biliary obstruction. Primary disease progression is faster in GBC compared to cholangiocarcinoma. There is a paucity of data on the selection of stents for inoperable GBC with hilar biliary obstruction. This review focuses on the published literature related to the selection of stents for unresectable GBC with hilar obstruction.

Keywords Gallbladder cancer, malignant hilar stricture, stent, metal, plastic

Ann Gastroenterol 2021; 34 (1): 12-19

Review Articles