The division of the hepatic duct is one of the most challenging passages of the donor hepatectomy. We report our experience with the early division, prior to the liver parenchyma resection, of the hepatic duct and the definition of the biliary anatomy with a probe inserted in the proper hepatic duct. From February 2002 to December 2004, 40 donors (25 male, 15 female; mean age 34, range 20-57) underwent right hepatectomy. The yield was a single duct in 24 donors (60%), two ducts in 12 donors (30%), and three ducts in one donor (2.5%), and three donors had aberrant anatomy yielding two ducts (7.5%). By means of a ductoplasty, a single orifice for the recipient biliary anastomosis was obtained in 77.5% of the cases. Three donors (7.5%) suffered a resection surface bile leak. The technique of hepatic duct probing and early division provides a precise definition of the biliary anatomy and facilitates one of the most challenging passages of the donor hepatectomy. This technique should also contribute to maximizing the preservation of the vascular supply of the hepatic duct and the yield of a single orifice for the recipient anastomosis. At a median follow-up of 21 months (range 10-44), neither short- nor long-term complications had been caused by the small donor choledochotomy.
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