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Biliary stricture

Definition

A biliary stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the common bile duct, the tube that moves bile (a substance that helps with digestion) from the liver to the small intestine.

Alternative Names

Bile duct stricture

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A biliary stricture is often caused by surgical injury to the bile ducts. For example, it may occur after surgery to remove the gallbladder.

Other causes of this condition include:

Risk factors include previous biliary surgery, pancreatitis, gallstones, or injury to the intestine.

Symptoms

Signs and tests

The following tests can help diagnose this condition:

The following blood tests can help reveal abnormal function of biliary system.

This condition may also alter the results of the following tests:

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to correct the narrowing and help bile flow normally from the liver into the intestine. This may involve surgery or less invasive procedures (endoscopic or percutaneous dilation). Depending on the location, if surgery is done, the stricture may be removed and the common bile duct rejoined with the small intestine.

In some cases, a stent (a tiny metal or plastic mesh tube) is placed across the bile duct stricture to keep it open. See: Stent

Expectations (prognosis)

Treatment is usually successful.

Complications

Recurrent inflammation of the biliary duct and stricture can occur in some patients. Patients are at risk for infection developing above the stricture. Long-standing strictures can lead to cirrhosis.

Calling your health care provider

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms recur after pancreatitis, cholecystectomy, or other biliary surgery.

References

Ostroff JW, LaBerge JM. Endoscopic and radiologic treatment of biliary disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Sleisenger MH, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2006:chap 67.


Review Date: 5/23/2010
Reviewed By: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc., and George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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