Endoscopic drainage is an effective therapy for palliation of patients with bile duct carcinoma. From November 1987 to November 1994 112 patients with cholangiocarcinoma were observed. The success rate of the procedure was 94.5%. The biliary drainage was successful in 99% of patients (in 4% of patients the complete biliary drainage was obtained with the aid of a transhepatically inserted guide-wire with the "rendez-vous" procedure). In 15 patients an intraluminal radiation therapy with Iridium-192 was associated. The morbility was 13% and the 30-days mortality 11%. A surgical operation was performed in 26% of patients with radical intent. The mean survival time in patients treated only endoscopically was 208 days for patients with lesions of the distal and middle third of the bile duct and 281 days for patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma. In patients with intraluminal radiation therapy the mean survival time was 357 days, with a significative difference with the only endoscopically treated group (357 vs 238 days, p < 0.05). We conclude that endoscopic drainage is a safe and effective management for patients with cholangiocarcinoma and it does not preclude definitive surgical treatment in appropriate candidate.
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