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Diseases reference index «Biliary stricture»

A biliary stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the common bile duct, the tube that moves bile (a substance that helps with digestion) from the liver to the small intestine.

Causes

A biliary stricture is often caused by surgical injury to the bile ducts. For example, it may occur after surgery to remove the gallbladder.

Other causes of this condition include:

  • Cancer of the bile duct
  • Damage and scarring due to a gallstone in the bile duct
  • Pancreatitis
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis

Risk factors include previous biliary surgery, pancreatitis, gallstones, or injury to the intestine.

Symptoms

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Jaundice
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pale or clay-colored stools

Exams and Tests

The following tests can help diagnose this condition:

  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTC)
  • Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)

The following blood tests can help reveal abnormal function of biliary system.

  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is higher than normal.
  • Bilirubin level is higher than normal.

This condition may also alter the results of the following tests:

  • Amylase level
  • Lipase level
  • Fecal fat
  • Urine bilirubin
  • Prothrombin time (PT)

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to correct the narrowing and help bile flow normally from the liver into the intestine. This may involve surgery or less invasive procedures (endoscopic or percutaneous dilation). Depending on the location, if surgery is done, the stricture may be removed and the common bile duct rejoined with the small intestine.

In some cases, a stent (a tiny metal or plastic mesh tube) is placed across the bile duct stricture to keep it open. See: Stent

Outlook (Prognosis)

Treatment is usually successful.

Possible Complications

Recurrent inflammation of the biliary duct and stricture can occur in some patients. Patients are at risk for infection developing above the stricture. Long-standing strictures can lead to cirrhosis.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms recur after pancreatitis, cholecystectomy, or other biliary surgery.

Alternative Names

Bile duct stricture

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