We carried out a retrospective investigation of the 89 patients with extrahepatic biliary atresia born in The Netherlands during a 10 year period. Of these 89 patients 10 had a diagnostic laparotomy only. Eight patients had an anastomosis between the proximal bile duct and the intestine, and the remaining 71 had hepatic portoenterostomies. Bile drainage was re-established in 46 (65%). After successful hepatic portoenterostomy the development of cholangitis was the most important determinant of long term survival; five year survival was 54% in the 19 patients who had cholangitis and 91% in the 27 who did not. In the whole group of 71 patients the five year survival was 47%. Seventeen patients were at least 5 years of age at the time of writing, three of whom had had liver transplantation. Three patients have cirrhosis and hyperbilirubinaemia, and the other 11 have normal bilirubin concentrations and normal or slightly raised transaminase activities. To improve these results early surgical intervention in all children with extrahepatic biliary atresia is necessary, as are better methods of prophylaxis and treatment of cholangitis.
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