Application of ursodeoxycholic acid in hepatobiliary scintigraphy for neonatal hyperbilirubinemia: Comparison with phenobarbital

Document Type : Original Article


1 Pediatrics Department, Imam Reza Hospital, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran.

2 Internal Medicine Department, Imam Reza Hospital, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran.


Introduction: Early differentiation of biliary atresia from neonatal hepatitis is of utmost importance, since on time surgery of biliary atresia significantly improves the outcome. Hepatobiliary scintigraphy is an integral part of diagnosis work-up of these patients; however its specificity for diagnosis of biliary atresia is suboptimal. In this study we evaluated the value of ursodeoxycholic acid pre-treatment for improvement of hepatobiliary scintigraphy specificity. 
Methods: Thirty consecutive infants with direct heperbilirubinemia were included into the study. All infants underwent hepatobiliary scintigraphy with 99mTc-bromo iminodiacetic acid (99mTc-BRIDA) twice (first after pre-treatment with phenobarbital and the other time after pre-treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid).
Results: Of 30 patients included into our study 13 had final diagnosis of extrahepatic biliary atresia and 17 had neonatal hepatitis. Bowel was visualized in 11 patients with neonatal hepatitis after phenobarbital pre-treatment and in 16 after ursodeoxycholic acid pretreatment which amounts to 80 % and 96.6 % specificity for diagnosis of biliary atresia with phenobarbital and ursodeoxycholic acid respectively. All patients had complications of phenobarbital administration (lethargy, poor feeding, irritability, hypotonia, etc) to some extent. These findings decreased significantly after discontinuation of phenobarbital and were not present with ursodeoxycholic acid.
Conclusion: Ursodeoxycholic acid is a safe and efficient drug for pre-treatment of patients with neonatal cholestasis syndrome who are going to undergo hepatobiliary scintigraphy. Compared to phenobarbital, this drug has fewer complications and is more efficient.


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