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Biliary Obstruction Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

What Is Biliary Obstruction?

Our liver releases bile. It is a liquid that contains waste products, bile salts and cholesterol. Bile salts are needed by our body to digest fats. The liver releases out the bile through our bile ducts. It is then stored in our gallbladder where it is released into our small intestine after consuming a meal.

The medical term biliary obstruction, as the name suggests, is the blockage in the specific tubes that transmit bile from our liver to our gallbladder and later into our small intestine.

What Are The Symptoms Of Biliary Obstruction?

Few common symptoms of biliary obstruction are:

  • Itching.
  • Fever.
  • Dark urine.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Jaundice.
  • Pale stools.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.

What Causes Biliary Obstruction?

Blocked bile ducts result in the accumulation of bile in the liver which leads to jaundice (because of the raised bilirubin levels in your blood). Potential causes of biliary obstruction are:

  • Gallstones.
  • Cysts of the bile ducts.
  • Inflammation of bile ducts.
  • Bile duct and liver worms.
  • Tumors of the pancreas or bile ducts.
  • Narrowing of bile ducts sue to scarring.
  • Tumor that has spread to your biliary system.
  • Injury from the surgery of gallbladder.

What Are The Risk Factors Of Biliary Obstruction?

Several risk factors are:

  • Recent biliary cancer/surgery.
  • Injury to your abdominal area.
  • History of pancreatic cancer, chronic pancreatitis or gallstones.
  • People with weak immune system are more prone to infections; the factor increases the risk of developing biliary obstruction.

What Are The Complications Of Biliary Obstruction?

In case biliary obstruction is left untreated, then it can lead to a number of serious complications including:

How Is Biliary Obstruction Diagnosed?

During the visit, the doctor will ask you to detail regarding your symptoms. Besides he will perform a thorough physical examination wherein he will feel the belly. Following can help diagnose a possible biliary obstruction.

  • Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP).
  • Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTCA).
  • Abdominal CT scan.
  • Abdominal ultrasound.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

How Is Biliary Obstruction Treated?

Treatment of biliary obstruction aims to relieve the blockage. Few treatment options include:

  • Surgery: If the blockage is due to gallstones, surgery is needed to remove the gallbladder.
  • Percutaneous dilation/ endoscope: if the blockage is sourced by cancer, then the specific procedure is suggested to widen the duct. Inserting a tube may be required to allow drainage.

What Is The Prognosis Of Biliary Obstruction?

In case no actions are taken for correcting the blockage, then it may lead to some critical complications such as infection or accumulation of bilirubin . Furthermore, if the blockage tends to persists for a long period of time, then it may consequent in chronic liver disease.
Majority cases of biliary obstruction are treated with surgery or endoscopy. Unfortunately, obstructions sourced by cancer have a poor outcome.


By : Natural Health News

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