European Radiology

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1812–1821 | Cite as

The porta hepatis microcyst: an additional sonographic sign for the diagnosis of biliary atresia

  • Mériam KoobEmail author
  • Danièle Pariente
  • Dalila Habes
  • Béatrice Ducot
  • Catherine Adamsbaum
  • Stéphanie Franchi-Abella



To describe and evaluate an additional sonographic sign in the diagnosis of biliary atresia (BA), the microcyst of the porta hepatis, in comparison with previously described signs.


Ultrasound performed in 321 infants (mean age 55 days) with cholestasis were retrospectively analyzed. BA was surgically confirmed in 193 patients and excluded in 128. US evaluated gallbladder type (1: normal; 2: consistent with BA; 3: suspicious), triangular cord sign (TCS), microcyst and macrocyst, polysplenia syndrome, portal hypertension, and bile duct dilatation. T test and Pearson χ2 test were used to compare US signs between the two groups, followed by univariate regression analysis.


The highest specificity and sensitivity for BA (p < 0.001) were respectively obtained with non-visible gallbladder (100 %-13 %), macrocyst (99 %-10 %), polysplenia (99 %-11 %), microcyst (98 %-20 %), type 2 gallbladder (98 %-34 %), and TCS (97 %-30 %). Combination of signs (macro or microcyst; cyst and no bile duct dilatation; microcyst and/or TCS; type 2 gallbladder and/or cyst) provided better sensitivities (25-49 %) with similar specificities (95-98 %) (p < 0.001).

On univariate analysis, the single US signs most strongly associated with BA were polysplenia (odds ratio, OR 16.3), macrocyst (OR 14.7), TCS (OR 13.4) and microcyst (OR 8).


Porta hepatis microcyst is a reliable US sign for BA diagnosis.

Key Points

The porta hepatis microcyst is a specific sign of biliary atresia.

It was found in 31 (16.1 %) of 193 patients with biliary atresia.

Its specificity was 98 % (p < 0.001).

High frequency transducer and color Doppler can show the porta hepatis microcyst.


Biliary atresia Ultrasound Gallbladder Cyst Triangular cord sign 



The scientific guarantor of this publication is Dr Pariente. The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies, whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article. The authors state that this work has not received any funding. One of the authors has significant statistical expertise. Institutional Review Board approval was obtained. Written informed consent was waived by the Institutional Review Board. Methodology: retrospective, diagnostic or prognostic study, performed at one institution.


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pediatric RadiologyHautepierre Universitary HospitalStrasbourgFrance
  2. 2.Icube LaboratoryUMR 7357 / Strasbourg University – CNRSStrasbourgFrance
  3. 3.Pediatric RadiologyBicêtre HospitalParisFrance
  4. 4.Pediatric HepatologyBicêtre HospitalParisFrance
  5. 5.Department of StatisticsBicêtre HospitalParisFrance

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