Long-term outcome after partial external biliary diversion for intractable pruritus in patients with intrahepatic cholestasis

Vicky Lee Ng, Frederick C. Ryckman, Gilda Porta, Irene K. Miura, Elisa De Carvalho, Maria F. Servidoni, Jorge A. Bezerra, William F. Balistreri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Background: Chronic intrahepatic cholestasis is associated with severe pruritus that is often refractory to maximal medical management and leads to significantly impaired quality of life. The hypothesis in this study was that partial external biliary diversion (PEBD) can substantially improve intractable pruritus secondary to intrahepatic cholestasis with subsequent improvement of functional quality of life. Methods: Parents' and/or patients' clinical rating of pruritus, growth percentiles, biochemical parameters, and liver biopsies performed before and after surgery were compared in a retrospective medical record review. Results: Eight children underwent PEBD from 1990 through 1997. Complete follow-up data were available for seven patients. Before surgery, all patients had intense pruritus, which was not responsive to maximal medical therapy. Specimens obtained in preoperative liver biopsies showed moderate (n = 1), minimal (n = 6), or no (n = 1) portal fibrosis. After PEBD, all patients received ursodeoxycholic acid (10-15 mg/kg/dose two to three times daily) until resolution of pruritus. Of the seven patients with complete follow-up data, six had complete resolution of pruritus and sustained resolution up to 8 years after surgery. The patient with mild to moderate residual pruritus was the youngest to undergo PEBD. Growth improved from below the 5th percentile before surgery to the 5th through the 25th percentiles for five of six patients with more than 6 years' follow-up. All families reported improved quality of life, defined by school attendance and ability to resume normal activity with peers. There has been no clinical evidence of progression of liver disease. Conclusion: Partial external biliary diversion is effective in the long-term treatment of pruritus refractory to medical therapy and provides a favorable outcome in a select group of patients with chronic intrahepatic cholestasis without cirrhosis. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-156
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Bile
  • Child
  • Liver
  • Progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Gastroenterology


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