Revision 12 for 'Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography'

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Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography

Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC) is a radiographic technique employed in visualization of the biliary tract, and can be used as the first step in a number of percutaneous biliary interventions (e.g. percutaneous transhepatic biliary stent placement)


Purely diagnostic percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography is performed when other less invasive methods of imaging the biliary tree (e.g MRCP, ERCP, CT IVC) have proven unsatisfactory. Indications include:

  • failed ERCP / ERCP not feasible (e.g. patients with gastrojejunostomy)
  • biliary system delineation in presence of intra and extrahepatic biliary calculi
  • to identify obstructive cause of jaundice; and differentiate from medically treatable cause
  • anatomic evaluation of complications of ERCP
  • delineating bile leaks


  • bleeding diathesis
  • gross ascites


Preprocedural evaluation

Before beginning the procedure it is imperative that one should evaluate all the available imaging data of the patient and understand the correct indication for this invasive procedure. Routine investigations that need to be looked at are liver function tests, baseline blood investigations like full blood count, coagulation profile (prothrombin time, PTT, INR and platelet count); if any of these tests are abnormal corrective measures should be taken before the procedure.

Positioning / room set up

Usually the procedure is done under local anesthesia with or without sedation (depending upon the patient cooperation). If the PTC is the first step in a likely painful or time consuming percutaneous biliary intervention, then many centers would prefer to have the patient anesthetized. 

An IV canula should be placed to maintain vascular access throughout the procedure. Preprocedural broad spectrum antibiotics are usually administered via intravenous route.

Routine skin preparation and draping should be performed, exposing a large area overlying the liver, such that a number of trajectories can be employed if need be. 

  • routine trolley pack
  • Chiba needle (22G, 15cm long)
  • connecting tube
  • water soluble iodinated contrast 

The point of entry of the needle is usually planned by using ultrasound guidance (increasingly used worldwide). A direct fluoroscopic approach was described initially and is still used commonly. A long two-part needle (approx. 15cm) 22G is inserted under ultrasound guidance into one of the peripheral ducts; after removing the needle stylet one can observe bile reflux at the needle hub or inject small amount of contrast to confirm duct punture on fluoroscopy. Once satisfactory position of the needle is confirmed, adequate amount of contrast material is injected and various projections of the biliary tree are obtained to evaluate the obstructive pathology.

Postprocedural care

Provided all has gone well, no specific postprocedural care is required, other than routine cardiovascular observations. 


  • biliary peritonitis
  • bleeding
  • cholangitis

See also

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