The Role of Hepatobiliary Scintigraphy as the Initial Investigative Modality for Significant Bile Leak following Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

Amitai Bickel, Ron Lagrissi, Jacqueline Jerushalmi, Wisam Sbeit, Michael Weiss, Moshe Shiller, Samer Ganam, Eli Kakiashvili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Currently, the rate of bile duct injury and leak following laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) is still higher than for open surgery. Diverse investigative algorithms were suggested for bile leak, shifting from hepatobiliary scintigraphy (HBS) toward invasive and more sophisticated means. We aimed to analyze the use of biliary scan as the initial modality to investigate significant bile leak in the drain following LC, attempting to avoid potential unnecessary invasive means when the scan demonstrate fair passage of nuclear substance to the intestine, without leak. Methods: We have conducted a prospective non-randomized study, mandating hepatobiliary scintigraphy first, for asymptomatic patients harboring drain in the gallbladder fossa, leaking more than 50 mL/day following LC. Analysis was done based on medical data from the surgical, gastroenterology, and the nuclear medicine departments. Results: Among 3,124 patients undergoing LC, significant bile leak in the drain was seen in 67 subjects, of whom we started with HBS in 50 patients, presenting our study group. In 27 of whom, biliary scan was the only investigative modality, showing fair passage of the nuclear isotope to the duodenum and absence of leak in the majority. The leak stopped spontaneously within a mean of 3.6 days, and convalescence as well as outpatient clinic follow-up was uneventful. In 23 patients, biliary scan that was interpreted as abnormal was followed by endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP). However, ERCP did not demonstrate any bile leak in 13 subjects. In 17 patients, ERCP was used initially, without biliary scan, suggesting the possibility of avoiding invasive modalities in 7 patients. Conclusions: Based on a negative predictive value of 91%, we suggest that in cases of asymptomatic significant bile leak through a drain following LC, a normal HBS as the initial modality can safely decrease the rate of using invasive modalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-186
Number of pages9
JournalDigestive Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2023

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