How is biliary atresia treated?

There is no cure for biliary atresia. The main treatment is a surgery called the Kasai procedure. In this surgery, the surgeon removes the damaged bile ducts from outside the liver and replaces them with a piece of the patient’s small intestine. The small intestine will then drain the liver directly to the small intestine.

This surgery is successful in most cases of biliary atresia. However, if it is not successful, the child will likely need a liver transplant. The child may need a liver transplant even if the surgery is successful, depending on when the surgery is performed.

What are the risks of surgery for biliary atresia?

  • Bleeding
  • Cholangitis (infection of the bile ducts and liver)
  • Hole in the intestine, which can cause a leakage of the intestinal contents into the belly
  • Blockage of the intestine caused by scarring

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/06/2019.


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