The aim of the study was to systematically review and meta-analyze the available evidence regarding the association between timing of repair or referral and clinical outcomes in bile duct injury (BDI).
Surgical repair is recommended for patients with complex BDI following laparoscopic cholecystectomy. However, consensus on the timing of surgery or referral to a specialist is lacking.
We searched PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Scopus for eligible studies. The coprimary outcomes were repair failure in follow-up and postoperative complications. We pooled odds ratios (ORs) using random-effects models.
We included 32 studies. The rate of repair failure was significantly higher for early versus delayed repair [OR 1.65, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.14-2.37, P= 0.007], lower for early versus delayed referral (OR 0.28, 95% CI 0.17-0.45, P < 0.001), but did not differ substantially for on-table versus postcholecystectomy repair (OR 2.06, 95% CI 0.89-4.73, P = 0.09). Regarding postoperative complications, early referral outperformed delayed referral (OR 0.24, 95% CI 0.09-0.68, P= 0.007); however, we found no significant differences between early and delayed repair (OR 1.34, 95% CI 0.96-1.87, P= 0.08), or between on-table and postcholecystectomy repair (OR 1.13, 95% CI 0.42-3.07, P= 0.81). At the cutoff time point of 6 weeks, early repair was associated with increased rates of repair failure (OR 4.03; P < 0.001), postoperative complications (OR 2.18; P < 0.001), and biliary stricture (OR 6.23; P < 0.001).
Among patients with BDI, early referral and delayed repair appear to confer favorable outcomes.