It has been postulated that biliary infection plays a role in bile duct stricture formation. The aim of this study was to verify this hypothesis and to evaluate the effect of biliary infection on common bile duct healing. A 3‐mm longitudinal choledochotomy was performed in 120 rats and closed with a continuous 11/0 Ethilon® suture. Common bile duct division with end‐to‐end anastomosis using interrupted 11/0 Ethilon sutures was performed in another 30 rats. Biliary infection was achieved in half of the animals with retrograde injection of living 046:K1:H31 strain Escherichia coli recovered from the rat colonic content. All rats with choledochotomy, including those with biliary infection, showed no bile leakage at the suture line, and the bursting pressure at the site of choledochotomy exceeded 40 mmHg as early as 24 h. Rats with common bile duct anastomosis alone showed no stricture formation for up to 6 months after operation. All rats with biliary sepsis developed complete occlusion at the anastomosis. On scanning electron microscopy, the biliary epithelium was well preserved in all rats. The study suggests that in rats with biliary sepsis the risk of bile leakage after primary closure of the common bile duct is negligible, but biliary infection may play a critical role in common bile duct stricture formation.
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