The importance of portal venous blood flow in ischemic-type biliary lesions after liver transplantation
Ischemic-type biliary lesions (ITBL) are the most frequent cause of nonanastomotic biliary strictures after liver transplantation. This complication develops in up to 25% of patients, with a 50% retransplantation rate in affected patients. Traditionally, ischemia-reperfusion injury to the biliary system is considered to be the major risk factor for ITBL. Several other risk factors for ITBL have been identified, including the use of liver grafts donated after cardiac death, prolonged cold and warm ischemic times and use of University of Wisconsin preservation solution. In recent years however, impaired microcirculation of the peribiliary plexus (PBP) has been implicated as a possible risk factor. It is widely accepted that the PBP is exclusively provided by blood from the hepatic artery, and therefore, the role of the portal venous blood supply has not been considered as a possible cause for the development of ITBL. In this short report, we present three patients with segmental portal vein thrombosis and subsequent development of ITBL in the affected segments in the presence of normal arterial blood flow. This suggests that portal blood flow may have an important contribution to the biliary microcirculation and that a compromised portal venous blood supply can predispose to the development of ITBL.