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.
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:
- Cancer of the bile duct
- Damage and scarring due to a gallstone in the bile duct
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
Risk factors include previous biliary surgery, pancreatitis, gallstones, or injury to the intestine.
Signs and tests
The following tests can help diagnose this condition:
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
- Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTC)
- Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)
The following blood tests can help reveal abnormal function of biliary system.
This condition may also alter the results of the following tests:
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
Treatment is usually successful.
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.
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.
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.