Liver surgery in perihilar cholangiocarcinoma (PHC) is associated with high postoperative morbidity because the tumor typically causes biliary obstruction. Preoperative biliary drainage is used to create a safer environment prior to liver surgery, but biliary drainage may be harmful when severe drainage-related complications deteriorate the patients’ condition or increase the risk of postoperative morbidity. Biliary drainage can cause cholangitis/cholecystitis, pancreatitis, hemorrhage, portal vein thrombosis, bowel wall perforation, or dehydration. Two methods of preoperative biliary drainage are mostly applied: endoscopic biliary drainage, which is currently used in most regional centers before referring patients for surgical treatment, and percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage. Both methods are associated with severe drainage-related complications, but two small retrospective series found a lower incidence in the number of preoperative complications after percutaneous drainage compared to endoscopic drainage (18-25% versus 38-60%, respectively). The present study randomizes patients with potentially resectable PHC and biliary obstruction between preoperative endoscopic or percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage.
The study is a multi-center trial with an “all-comers” design, randomizing patients between endoscopic or percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage. All patients selected to potentially undergo a major liver resection for presumed PHC are eligible for inclusion in the study provided that the biliary system in the future liver remnant is obstructed (even if they underwent previous inadequate endoscopic drainage). Primary outcome measure is the total number of severe preoperative complications between randomization and exploratory laparotomy. The study is designed to detect superiority of percutaneous drainage: a provisional sample size of 106 patients is required to detect a relative decrease of 50% in the number of severe preoperative complications (alpha = 0.95; beta = 0.8). Interim analysis after inclusion of 53 patients (50%) will provide the definitive sample size. Secondary outcome measures encompass the success of biliary drainage, quality of life, and postoperative morbidity and mortality.
The DRAINAGE trial is designed to identify a difference in the number of severe drainage-related complications after endoscopic and percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage in patients selected to undergo a major liver resection for perihilar cholangiocarcinoma.
Netherlands Trial Register [NTR4243, 11 October 2013].
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