AIM: To evaluate the incidence of late biliary complications in non-resectable alveolar echinococcosis (AE) under long-term chemotherapy with benzimidazoles.
METHODS: Retrospective analysis of AE patients with biliary complications occurring more than three years after the diagnosis of AE. We compared characteristics of patients with and without biliary complications, analyzed potential risk factor for biliary complications and performed survival analyses.
RESULTS: Ninety four of 148 patients with AE in Zurich had non-resectable AE requiring long-term benzimidazole chemotherapy, of which 26 (28%) patients developed late biliary complications. These patients had a median age of 55.5 (35.5-65) years at diagnosis of AE and developed biliary complications after 15 (8.25-19) years of chemotherapy. The most common biliary complications during long-term chemotherapy were late-onset cholangitis (n = 14), sclerosing cholangitis-like lesions (n = 8), hepatolithiasis (n = 5), affection of the common bile duct (n = 7) and secondary biliary cirrhosis (n = 7). Thirteen of the 26 patients had undergone surgery (including 12 resections) before chemotherapy. Previous surgery was a risk factor for late biliary complications in linear regression analysis (P = 0.012).
CONCLUSION: Late biliary complications can be observed in nearly one third of patients with non-resectable AE, with previous surgery being a potential risk factor. After the occurrence of late biliary complications, the median survival is only 3 years, suggesting that late biliary complications indicate a poor prognostic outcome.