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Biliary stricture

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

Causes

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

Other causes of this condition include:

Risk factors include:

Symptoms


Exams and Tests

The following tests can help diagnose this condition:

The following blood tests can help reveal a problem with the biliary system.

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

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to correct the narrowing so bile can flow from the liver into the intestine.

This may involve:

  • Surgery
  • Endoscopic or percutaneous dilation

If surgery is done, the stricture is removed. The common bile duct will be rejoined with the small intestine.

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

Outlook (Prognosis)

Treatment is successful most of the time.

Possible Complications

Inflammation and narrowing of the biliary duct may return in some people. There is a risk for infection above the narrowed area. Strictures that remain for a long period can lead to liver damage (cirrhosis).

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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

Alternative Names

Bile duct stricture

References

Afdhal NH. Diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 158.

Update Date: 5/15/2014

Updated by: Jenifer K. Lehrer, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, Aria Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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