The incidence and severity of post-hepatectomy bile leaks is affected by surgical indications, preoperative chemotherapy, and surgical procedures

Vinzent N. Spetzler, Marlene Schepers, Hans O. Pinnschmidt, Lutz Fischer, Björn Nashan, Jun Li


Background: Bile leaks are one of the most common complications after liver resection. The International Study Group of Liver Surgery (ISGLS) established a uniform bile leak definition including a severity grading. However, a risk factor assessment according to ISGLS grading as well as the clinical implications has not been studied sufficiently so far.
Methods: The incidence and grading of bile leaks according to ISGLS were prospectively documented in 501 consecutive liver resections between July 2012 and December 2016. A multivariate regression analysis was performed for risk factor assessment. Association with other surgical complications, 90-day mortality as well as length of hospital stay (LOS) was studied.
Results: The total rate of bile leaks in this cohort was 14.0%: 2.8% grade A, 8.0% grade B, and 3.2% grade C bile leaks were observed. Preoperative chemotherapy or biliary intervention, diagnosis of hilar cholangiocarcinoma, colorectal metastasis, central minor liver resection, major hepatectomy, extended hepatectomy or two-stage hepatectomy, were some of the risk factors leading to bile leaks. The multivariate regression analysis revealed that preoperative chemotherapy, major hepatectomy and biliodigestive reconstruction remained significant independent risk factors for bile leaks. Grade C bile leaks were associated not only with surgical site infection, but also with an increased 90-day mortality and prolonged LOS.
Conclusions: The preoperative treatment as well as the surgical procedure had significant influence on the incidence and the severity of bile leaks. Grade C bile leaks were clinically most relevant, and led to significant increased LOS, rate of infection, and mortality.