Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 656–662 | Cite as

What is the Duct of Luschka?—A Systematic Review

  • Thomas SchnelldorferEmail author
  • Michael G. Sarr
  • David B. Adams
Review Article



Subvesical bile ducts (frequently termed incorrectly “ducts of Luschka”) have gained increased clinical recognition in the era of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Though cited frequently and discussed in the literature, the original description by Hubert von Luschka and many anatomic details of these subvesical bile ducts remain ill-defined.

Study design

A systematic literature search was conducted including publications that described either radiographic features or gross anatomy of bile ducts in close contact with the gallbladder fossa. Of 2,545 publications identified from electronic databases, 116 met inclusion criteria.


Of 116 articles, 13 incorporated a prevalence study design. These 13 articles investigated 3,996 patients, of whom 156 were diagnosed with a subvesical duct for a prevalence of 4%. The prevalence in articles focusing on subvesical bile ducts was greater than in articles studying biliary anatomy in general (10% versus 3%; p < 0.0001). Furthermore, of 116 articles, 54 provided detailed anatomic information identifying 238 subvesical ducts, most of which represented accessory ducts. The origin and drainage of these ducts were limited primarily to the right lobe of the liver, but great variation was seen. The mean diameter of the subvesical ducts was 2 mm (range 1–18 mm).


The term “ducts of Luschka” should be abandoned and should be replaced by the correct term of “subvesical bile duct”. The variability in anatomic location of subvesical bile ducts puts them at risk during hepato-biliary operations. A better understanding of ductal anatomy is elemental in preventing and managing operative injury to the subvesical ducts. This review debunks common myths about the so-called “duct of Luschka” and offers a systematic overview of the anatomy of the subvesical bile duct.


Duct of Luschka Subvesical bile duct Biliary anatomy 


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Copyright information

© The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Schnelldorfer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael G. Sarr
    • 2
  • David B. Adams
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryUniversity of Pennsylvania School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Gastroenterologic and General SurgeryMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA

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