June 17, 2009

Treating Bile Duct Inflammation & Blockage Problems

Posted in Category : Gall Bladder

Your bile duct can be described as a small pipe, which transports bile from your liver to the small intestines after you eat. There are several different conditions and diseases that could cause problems to your bile duct, thereby affecting the proper flow of bile. Given below are a few of the bile duct problems that have been observed in people –


The formation of gallstones is probably one of the major causes of   blockage in the bile ducts. This also results in the formation of stones of different sizes in the gallbladder that create a blockage in the common bile duct present at the liver base. In the event the duct continues to stay blocked waste matter starts getting collected in the bloodstream as well as the system of the bile duct. You may also develop a severe infection known as ascending cholangitis, if bacteria accumulates with the blockage and retreats into the liver. If the gallstone stops between the gallbladder and the common bile duct, an infection known as cholecystitis could result.

Bile ducts cancer

There are three different types of cancers that can affect the bile ducts; these include –

  • Perihilar (or hilar) bile duct cancer
  • Intrahepatic bile duct cancer
  • Extrahepatic bile duct cancer

In most instances, the cancer grows slowly and spreads gradually. Therefore, you may not experience any symptoms in the initial stages. This is probably also the reason that most bile duct cancer tumors are detected in the advanced stage.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis

Primary sclerosing cholangitis can be described as a progressive disease of the bile ducts, which leads to liver damage and failure. This condition causes the walls of the bile duct to become narrower. Though anyone can suffer from primary sclerosing cholangitis, it is a lot more common in men. The exact causes of this condition are still not clear, but most of the times, it is observed in people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease.

Primary biliary cirrhosis

The disease causing slow destruction of the bile ducts in your liver is known is called primary biliary cirrhosis. The damage to the bile ducts leads to a buildup of harmful substances in the liver, which could result in irreversible scarring in the liver tissue (cirrhosis). The exact causes of primary biliary cirrhosis are still not clear, but this condition is believed to be an autoimmune disease. This condition creates an ongoing inflammation in the walls of the bile duct, which in turn leads to scarring.

Biliary atresia

This is a very uncommon condition of bile duct blockage, which mainly occurs in infants between the ages of two weeks and six weeks.


The signs and symptoms of bile duct problems may vary, depending upon the condition and its severity. In some people, the symptoms may show up suddenly and severely, but in other cases, they may take years to appear. Some of the most common blocked bile duct symptoms include –

  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (Jaundice)
  • Severe itching
  • Changes in the color of urine, where it appears brownish
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Pain in the abdomen, especially under the right side of the rib case
  • Reduction in appetite
  • Clay-colored or greasy stools

It is important for you to consult a doctor as soon as you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above.

Tests and diagnosis

You may need to undergo a few medical tests to determine the exact problem, its causes and its severity. Some of the tests that your doctor may recommend include –

  • Specialized blood tests
  • Ultrasound of the liver
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography
  • Cholangiography
  • Liver biopsies

Your doctor may decide on a treatment path based on the results of your tests.

In most instances medical experts first prescribe antibiotics for treating the infection caused by the various bile duct problems. However, the treatment of the actual problem may require surgery.