You’ve been experiencing sharp pain in your upper right abdomen. Along with that pain, you may also be having nausea, vomiting, fever, or other symptoms.

“Bile duct disease,” says your doctor. But what does that mean? Is it treatable?

Will you need surgery?

It can be quite stressful when you’ve been told, or if you suspect, that you have a particular illness.

It’s common to turn to the internet for answers. The amount of information out there can be overwhelming — and sometimes downright scary!

That’s why we’ve created the following guide. Read on for more information about bile duct disease and what it may mean for you.

Bile Duct Disease: A Complete Guide

In this guide, we’ll go over the basics of bile ducts diseases, including causes, symptoms, and treatments.

Let’s get started.

What Is Bile Duct Disease?

Bile ducts are the tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and on to the small intestine. An issue with these ducts are most often caused by a blockage, which prevents the bile from flowing properly.

There are several possible causes of a bile duct blockage, including the following:

  • Gallstones
  • Narrowing of the bile ducts
  • Injury to the ducts during surgery
  • Pancreatic disorders
  • Birth defects
  • Cysts
  • Tumors

Bile ducts can also become inflamed, leading to blockages. This inflammation is usually caused by a bacterial infection.

Signs and Symptoms

Most bile duct diseases have the same symptoms. Blockages of the bile ducts can cause some or all of the following:

  • Pain in the upper right abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pale or clay colored stools
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Itchiness

Your symptoms may be chronic, or they may come on suddenly, like an attack. These attacks often last about six hours, and they can occur every day or less frequently.

Diagnosing Bile Duct Diseases

Problems with the bile duct can be diagnosed in several ways. Your doctor may order several blood tests, including an alkaline phosphatase test, an antimitochondrial antibody test, or a bilirubin blood test.

You may need to have an ultrasound to image the gallbladder, bile ducts, and liver. Other imaging tests used to diagnose diseases of the bile duct include an MRCP, a CT scan, and a HIDA scan.

Treatment Options

Treatment of bile duct diseases aims to clear the blocked bile duct. The treatment that is used will depend on the cause of the blockage.

For example, the gallbladder may need to be removed if gallstones are the reason for the blockage. If the ducts are inflamed due to a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.

Bile Duct Cancer

The symptoms of bile duct diseases can also rarely be caused by cancer. This may be pancreatic cancer or bile duct cancer.

Bile duct cancer is most often found using the same tests for diagnosing bile duct diseases. The main treatments are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Try not to be alarmed.

Bile duct cancer is very uncommon. Only around 8,000 people in the US are diagnosed with it each year.

Looking For a Doctor?

If you’ve been told you have a bile duct disease and that it likely requires surgery, you may be wondering what to do next. You’ll want to find an experienced and compassionate surgeon who can help you through the process.

Dr. Clancy Clark is a board-certified surgeon specializing in bile duct, liver, and pancreatic surgery. He works with patients and their families to manage and treat a variety of bile duct, liver, and pancreatic disorders.

If you have questions or would like more information, please use our contact page to get in touch.

Everything You Need to Know About Bile Duct Disease
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