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Bile Duct Diseases


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Bile duct diseases obstruct, or block, the flow of digestive juices (bile) made in the liver that break down the food we eat. Obstruction happens in the biliary tract, or the ducts that direct the bile from the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas to the small intestine. This causes toxins to back up and damage the liver.

Stones in the gallbladder that dislodge into the biliary tract is the most common cause of a blockage. Others include bile duct cancer (called cholangiocarcinoma) or scarring from infections, surgery, or inflammation.

The liver specialists at the University of Miami Health System treat all types of bile duct diseases, including chronic (ongoing) and complex conditions, such as:

  • Congenital biliary development disorders: liver disease that’s present at birth (congenital) due to malformations or defects in the biliary tract. These include biliary atresia and fibropolycystic disease.

  • Primary biliary cirrhosis: inflammation and destruction of the bile ducts that causes irreversible liver scarring (called cirrhosis). It’s more common in women and is associated with autoimmune diseases (overactive immune system that attacks healthy cells by mistake).

  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis: inflammation in the bile duct walls (called cholangitis) that leads to hardening (called sclerosis) and narrowing. It’s associated with bacterial infections and is common in men with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

If you have symptoms of a bile duct disease, such as fatigue, greasy stools, itchy skin, weight loss, or abdominal pain in the upper right side, make an appointment with one of our hepatologists (liver specialists). We can diagnose your condition and get you on the road to healing.


Advanced Diagnostic Imaging
Medical imaging such as abdominal ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans show blood flow, size, structure, and function of the liver and surrounding organs.

A liver biopsy is a small tissue sample taken from a needle for analysis at a lab. Liver biopsies are performed using ultrasound imaging to guide the needle to the right place.

Cholangiography is an X-ray with a dye contrast injected in the veins (called intravenous, or IV) or in the liver to view the bile duct structures.

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
ERCP combines X-ray and endoscopy (a thin, flexible tube with a light at the tip) inserted through the mouth and throat. A contrast dye is injected to identify problems with the liver, gallbladder, biliary tract, and pancreas.

Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
EUS uses endoscopy inserted through the mouth and stomach into the small intestine to view internal structures.

Lab Tests
Some of the urine and blood tests that help detect bile duct diseases and complications include liver function studies, cellular blood counts, electrolytes, and autoimmune antibodies.


Interventional Radiology Techniques
Interventional radiology procedures , like percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC), use image-guided technology to drain biliary fluids., like percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC).

Medicine Therapy
Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat the cause of the biliary obstruction, such as infections, inflammation, or autoimmune disorders. Medicines can also improve symptoms like itchy skin.

Hepatobiliary surgery for bile duct diseases depends on the condition. Procedures include minimally invasive and open techniques to remove, repair, or temporarily work around what’s obstructing normal flow.

If your condition is advanced or doesn’t respond well to medicine therapy or surgery, a liver transplant may be an option.

Why Choose UHealth?

Researching breakthroughs in biliary duct diseases. We’re actively conducting clinical trial research for new and safer medicines for treating biliary duct diseases. We bring what we learn to you, faster.

Hepatologists trained in GI endoscopy procedures. With hepatologists trained in gastroenterology (GI) procedures, you get comprehensive care without seeing multiple specialists. We can diagnose gastrointestinal complications related to liver diseases, reducing the time it takes for treatments to begin.

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