Biliary stricture occurs when the bile duct (the tube that takes bile from the liver to the small bowel) gets smaller or narrower. Bile is a substance that helps in digestion of fatty food. A narrowed bile duct makes it difficult for bile to pass to the small bowel, causing a buildup of bile. Diagnosis and treatment are discussed.
Biliary stricture, also known as bile duct stricture, occurs when the bile duct gets smaller or narrower. The bile duct is the tube that takes bile from the liver to the small bowel. Bile is a substance that helps in digestion of fatty food and excreting (getting rid of) harmful substances.
When the bile duct becomes narrow, it makes it difficult for bile to pass from the liver to the small bowel. This reduction in bile to the small bowel leads to difficulty in digesting food, especially fatty food. When bile is not excreted, it builds up in the body and causes several symptoms.
Patients with mild biliary strictures may not show any symptoms, but the stricture causes abnormalities in the blood and a rise in some of the liver enzymes. When the stricture becomes more pronounced, symptoms start to develop.
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Biliary strictures can be caused by:
Biliary stricture can be diagnosed through different forms of imaging studies that allow doctors to see the bile duct. Blood tests of the liver and biliary enzymes help the doctor determine if the patient may have biliary stricture and if an imaging test is needed to diagnose it.
The doctor may order the following imaging tests:
There are no medical treatments for biliary stricture. Most of the times, it can be treated with a procedure, and possibly a surgery.
There are two procedures that can be done to open a biliary stricture:
Your doctor will decide which procedure you will need based on the cause of the stricture and other factors.
In rare cases, biliary stricture might require a surgery. Surgery is done to resect (take out) the narrowed part of the bile duct and then reconnect the healthy bile duct.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/25/2019.
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