Biliary Obstruction

May 3, 2022

What is a Biliary Obstruction?

The biliary system is a series of ducts that helps transport bile from your liver to your gallbladder, and then to your small intestine in order to help you digest food within the small intestine. A biliary obstruction is when one of these ducts gets blocked and does not allow the bile to pass freely throughout the biliary system. A biliary obstruction is commonly referred to as a bile duct obstruction because one of the most common places for these obstructions to occur is in the bile duct between the liver and the gallbladder.

What causes a Biliary Obstruction?

The most common cause of biliary obstruction is gallstones.

Gallstones can form when the amount of cholesterol or bilirubin in the bile is too high.

These solid particles then flow through the bile ducts and obstruct the flow of bile.

Other causes include;

  • Cysts of the common bile duct
  • Bile duct inflammation
  • Injury from other surgeries
  • Tumors that have spread to the bile ducts
  • Parasites

What are the symptoms of a bile duct or biliary obstruction?

The most common symptoms of bile duct obstruction are

  • Jaundice
  • Itching
  • Dark urine
  • Pale or light-colored stools
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever and night sweats
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abnormal loss of weight or appetite

In the case of biliary obstruction, the bile is blocked from doing its part in breaking down foods. Bile is secreted by the liver to break down fats and allow it to be absorbed, as well as aiding in clearing waste out of the body. If left untreated, biliary obstruction could lead to a life-threatening disease of the liver.

If you are experiencing the above symptoms and believe you might have a biliary block, contact the nearest GI Alliance location to you as soon as possible.

Treatment for a Biliary Obstruction

A majority of the biliary obstructions can be removed by using an endoscope during an ERCP. In severe, or extreme cases surgery is required to remove the blockage and sometimes remove the gallbladder. If the cause of the obstruction is related to cancer then the ducts will most likely need to be stretched and drained.

If you are experiencing dark urine or pale stools, contact the nearest TDDC location to you as soon as possible.