Bile Duct Blockage – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

A bile duct is essentially a tubular structure carrying bile.

Bile duct blockage

is caused when the flow of bile is inhibited due to some obstruction from the liver to the gall bladder and small intestine.

What is Bile?

Bile is a liquid secreted from the liver. It contains bile salts, fats like cholesterols and wastes like bilirubin. Bile is a key component of the digestion process and is essential for the metabolism of fats.
Bile duct obstruction causes it to accumulate in the liver causing an increase in the bilirubin levels. Jaundice is a common fall out of this situation.


Causes of Bile Duct Blockage

  • Gall stones.
  • Enlarged and swollen lymph nodes in the hepatic portal vein.
  • Cysts of the common bile duct.
  • Scar tissue in the bile duct.
  • Inflamation of the bile duct.
  • Trauma or injury caused due to any external blow or during gallbladder surgery.
  • Tumours of the bile duct and pancreas.
  • Cancerous mass formation in the bile duct. In pancreatitic cancer, this condition is seen in the part of the duct passing through the pancreas.

Symptoms of Bile Duct Obstruction

  • Pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen.
  • Dark urine.
  • Fever.
  • Skin rashes.
  • Nausea and Vomiting.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Jaundice.
  • Pale Colored Stools.


Treatment of Bile Duct Blockage

  • Treatment of this condition is generally done by removing the blockage instantly.
  • If it is caused by gall stones, stones may be removed in an ERCP procedure and symptoms may be relieved.
  • Surgery is the next best option. In cases of an open surgery to remove gall stones, the gall bladder is also removed along with the stones.
  • Surgery to bypass the obstruction by inserting stents is also done. If infection persists, antibiotics are used to treat them.
  • If a cancerous mass is causing the blockage then the duct needs to be dilated to make way for the bile to pass through. It is apalliative surgery very often conducted to improve the quality of life in cancer patients. The procedure is referred to as Endoscope or Percutaneous Dilation.
  • It is a condition which requires emmergency hospitalisation and if not addressed timely may prove fatal becuase of the abnormal amounts of bilirubin in blood.

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