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A Klatskin cancer is a cancer of the bile ducts that occurs at the junction where the right and left hepatic bile ducts join together. When the cancer can be removed completely by surgery, the operation is called potentially curative surgery.  Potentially curative surgery for Klatskin cancers is usually very extensive and highly complex.

Curative surgery for Klatskin tumour is performed with the aim to increase the survival of the patients and to prevent jaundice and bile infection caused by obstruction of the bile ducts.

When the cancer cannot be removed safely or it is too widespread, palliative surgery may be performed. A biliary bypass operation which involves joining the bile duct to a loop of small intestine is performed to allow the bile to flow into the intestines to relieve the jaundice or itching.

In Klatskin cancer, the tumour originates at the junction of the right and left hepatic bile ducts just as they exit the liver. At this location, there are many important vital structures such as the artery to the liver, portal vein and bile duct. Very often, parts of the liver, bile duct, gallbladder, nearby lymph nodes are removed together. The extent of the liver operation varies, depending on the extent of the cancer. Occasionally, a portion of the blood vessels may be removed and reconstruction of the blood vessels may be necessary. The remaining bile duct is then connected to a loop of the small intestine.

Surgery for Klatskin cancer is usually performed in jaundiced patients who carry higher risks for bleeding and infection. As the extent of resection depends on the stage of the cancer, your surgeon will discuss the risks and complications with you in detail before the operation.


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