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Introduction
Biliary tract is a system comprising of the liver, gall bladder, and bile ducts. It helps in the production, secretion, and storage of a fluid called bile, which helps in the process of digestion.

Types of Biliary Tract Disorders

  • Bile Duct Stones: also called gallstones are hard, pebble-like deposits formed in the gallbladder that can block the bile duct. Gallstones are formed due to various reasons such as,
    • High content of cholesterol in bile
    • Diet and lifestyle
    • Gallbladder movement
    • Body weight
    • Birth control pills
    • Prolonged fasting
    • Increased level of estrogen
    • Hormone therapy

Presence of gallstones can cause the following complications:

  • Cholecystitis: is the inflammation of the gall bladder.
  • Cholangitis: is the inflammation of the bile duct blocking the passage of bile from liver to small intestine. It can cause pain, fever, and jaundice.
  • Inflammation of the pancreas due to blockage of digestive fluids into the small intestine.
  • Cholangiocarcinoma: is the cancer related to the bile duct.
  • Tumor in the gallbladder, pancreas or bile ducts.
  • Injury to the bile duct during gallbladder surgery.
  • Pancreatic Disorders like pancreatitis that causes redness and inflammation of the pancreas as well as pancreatic cancer.
  • Parasitic infection
  • AIDS may narrow the bile duct
  • Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis: causes inflammation of the liver along with progressive scarring and narrowing of the bile ducts.
  • Autoimmune Hepatitis: is a disorder where the immune system attacks the liver cells causing redness, swelling, and liver damage.
  • Cirrhosis: is a chronic liver disease that occurs when scar tissue replaces healthy tissues in the liver resulting in liver damage.
  • Acute liver failure: occurs when the liver loses its ability to function. It is usually caused by the overdose of medication or poisoning.

Symptoms
Some of the symptoms for biliary tract disorders may be abrupt and severe while others progress over time. These include,

  • Jaundice, the yellowing of the skin or eyes, is caused by the accumulation of a waste product called bilirubin
  • Light brown urine
  • Itching may worsen at night or during warm weather conditions
  • Fatigue
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain, mainly on the right side under the rib cage
  • Loss of appetite
  • Greasy or clay-colored stool
  • Nausea and vomiting

Diagnosis
The doctor might perform any of the following diagnostic tests to confirm Biliary tract disorders:

  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a GI procedure that is performed to diagnose the biliary system. A special endoscope is used to examine the digestive tract using a contrast dye and X-ray images. It is also used to treat related diseases by methods such as Sphincterotomy, Stent placement, and Gallstone removal.
  • Diagnostic Image testing such as CT scan or MRI scan of the liver
  • Ultrasound is used to visualize the gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver. It shows the enlargement of ducts above a blockage
  • Liver biopsy
  • X-ray of the bile duct is done using dye to show the flow of bile as it drains from the liver

Treatment
Treatment options available for biliary tract diseases vary as the intensity of the disease varies. Prescription drugs and antibiotics help treat some diseases related to the biliary tract. Surgery and immediate medical help are required in some cases such as acute liver failure etc.

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