Your biliary system consists of bile ducts, which are tubes that move bile from your liver to the small intestines. In some cases, these tubes become obstructed and prevent the normal flow of bile. This issue could cause serious complications and require surgery from one of the prominent surgeons at The Surgery Group of Los Angeles, serving Los Angeles and the surrounding area.
What is a Bile Duct Obstruction
A bile duct obstruction is a blockage that occurs in the bile ducts, which are the tubes that carry bile from the liver to the small intestines. The blockage could be a bile stone caused by a solid formation of bile components that form in the gallbladder. These stones could enter into the bile ducts and prevent the usual flow of bile, a green or yellowish brown substance that is necessary to digest and absorb fats. The gallbladder stones may not pass from the gallbladder and remain there, causing issues in the bile ducts. In rare cases, the obstruction stems from cancer. Cancer in the bile duct could lead to a blockage in the bile ducts. It’s possible for cancer to form anywhere in the bile duct.
Symptoms of a Bile Duct Obstruction
If you have a bile duct obstruction, you may have light-colored stools. Dark urine and jaundice are possible. You could experience itching, nausea, weight loss or vomiting. Fever is a common symptom as well.
Complications from a Bile Obstruction
When left untreated, a bile obstruction has the potential to cause serious issues. The pain will worsen. Bilirubin–the waste product formed when the liver rids the body of old red blood cells–could build up because of the obstruction. The buildup of bilirubin could cause chronic liver disease. You might also develop a serious infection and even sepsis. The obstruction puts the person more at risk of developing cancer. Primary biliary cirrhosis may develop from a bile obstruction.
Treatment of a Bile Obstruction
A bile obstruction may require surgical removal. Our surgeon may perform an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP), which is an endoscopic procedure used to remove the stones. If you have gallstones, we may need to remove the entire gallbladder, which will prevent gallstones from recurring in the future. To remove cancerous cells, we may need to remove the entire gallbladder or at least widen the ducts.
Generally, the surgeries are relatively safe procedures, so you usually don’t experience side effects from the surgery other than minimal discomfort after the procedure. However, you could experience an infection in or around the incision area. You could have a reaction to the general anesthesia. Internal bleeding and an injury to the liver, small intestine or bile duct is possible. Keep in mind, if you have to have surgery for cancer, the surgery is usually more invasive, and the side effects vary depending on how the cancer has progressed and how much of the bowel ducts, gallbladder, liver and small intestines need to be removed