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BACKGROUND: Surgery for perihilar cholangiocarcinoma (pCCA) offers the only possibility of long-term survival, but remains a formidable undertaking. Traditionally, 90-day post-operative complications and death are used to define operative risk. However, there is concern that this metric may not accurately capture long-term morbidity after such complex surgery. METHODS: A retrospective review of a prospective database of patients undergoing surgery for pCCA at a Western centre between January 2009-2020. RESULTS: Eighty-five patients underwent surgical resection for pCCA with a median overall survival of 36.3 months. Post-op (<90day) morbidity rates were high with 46% of patients developing a major complication (Clavien-Dindo grade 3-4). Post-op mortality rate was 13%. In total 38% (28/74) of patients experienced at least 1 episode of delayed morbidity (>90-days of surgery) resulting in 53 separate admissions with a median LOS of 7 days (IQR 2-15). These episodes were predominately secondary to biliary obstruction with the majority requiring radiological intervention (Clavien-Dindo grade 3). The development of long-term morbidity was associated with increased recurrence rates and correlated with poorer OS (27.6 months vs. 65.7 months HR 2.2 CI 1.63-2.77). CONCLUSIONS: Routinely cited 90-day morbidity and mortality does not accurately capture the patient morbidity experienced following surgery for pCCA. Surgery clearly offers a survival benefit and should be pursued in selected patients, but they must be fully counselled on the potential for long-term morbidity before embarking on this strategy.

Original publication




Journal article


Surg Oncol

Publication Date





Cholangiocarcinoma, Complications, Morbidity, Surgery