Treatment Options for Biliary Atresia

Only 1 out of a 100,000 newborns are usually diagnosed for

biliary atresia

. This is a severe liver disease that mostly affects girls when compared to boys. The reasons for this liver disease are not yet evident and even treatments would not help the situation.

Biliary atresia

is also one reason for the increased number of liver transplants in children, especially in the US and the West.

Let us look at the treatment options available for treating this condition.

Treatment Options:

Since this liver disease is not inherited, doctors would have to check for any viruses or bacteria that may be present in the child that are worsening his/her liver condition.

  • To perform a diagnosis, the doctor would have to make an incision into the child’s abdomen after the child is sedated. This is usually done if the newborn suffers from jaundice for one month.
  • After making the incision into the abdomen, the bile duct is examined and the disease if confirmed can be treated in two ways.

Hepato Portoenterostomy or Kasai Procedure:

Using this procedure, the liver is drained with the help of the smaller bile ducts instead of making use of the larger bile ducts to drain the bile liquid into the intestines.

  • Although not an entire cure to atresia, this procedure produces some excellent results if it is performed before the child is three months old. Without performing this procedure, a child may not survive for even two years.
  • Thus, it is important that the diagnosis of this condition is done within a couple of months after the child’s birth. This would help prevent a severe or permanent liver damage.


  • As already mentioned, this procedure only manages the condition of the liver and does not offer any permanent cure.
  • In case the surgery is unsuccessful, the child would pick up liver cirrhosis within the first two years since the bile flow may not be controlled. So, the only alternative if this procedure were to fail is a liver transplant.

Liver Transplantation:

Thanks to the scientific advances, liver transplants in children are yielding good results and also the success rate of this procedure has been excellent.

  • For instance, previously only livers that matched the size (only a child’s liver) was to be used for transplantation. Now, even part of an adult’s liver can be used. This technique is called a split liver transplant or a reduced size transplant.

The above two treatment options for

biliary atresia

can be useful depending the stage of diagnosis of the condition.

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