Prognostic Tool for Biliary Atresia after Kasai: Serum Bile Acids

S Harpavat et al. Hepatology 2023; 77: 862-873. Open Access! Serum bile acids as a prognostic biomarker in biliary atresia following Kasai portoenterostomy

Methods: Participants with biliary atresia from the Childhood Liver Disease Research Network, in a prospective observational cohort, were included if they had normalized bilirubin levels 6 months after KP and stored serum samples from the 6‐month post‐KP clinic visit.

Key Findings:

  • The ≤40 μmol/L group (n=43) had a 10‐year cumulative incidence of liver transplant/death of 8.5% compared with 42.9% for the >40 μmol/L group (n=94) (p = 0.001).
  • At 2 years of age, the ≤40 μmol/L group had significantly lower total bilirubin, aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, gamma‐glutamyltransferase, bile acids, and spleen size, as well as significantly higher albumin and platelet counts.
  • In addition, during 734 person‐years of follow‐up, those in the ≤40 μmol/L group were significantly less likely to develop splenomegaly, ascites, gastrointestinal bleeding, or clinically evident portal hypertension.
  • The 137 patients included in this study were only a small fraction of the 756 children enrolled in these studies. 232 children failed to achieve normalized serum bilirubin levels by 6 months following KP, 279 children did not have a 6‐month post‐KP serum bilirubin value, and 108 children did not have serum available for bile acid testing.

My take: Only a fraction of children with BA normalize their bilirubin by 6 months after Kasai procedure. In those with normalized bilirubin (T bilirubin <1.5 mg/dL or conjugated <0.2 mg/dL), elevated serum bile acid levels indicate a high risk for progressive liver disease.

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