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Bile Duct

Your gallbladder, an organ within the digestive system that lies under the liver, is responsible for storing bile until you eat. Whenever you eat the gallbladder releases bile through these tube-like projections into the small intestines to help break up the food.

Unfortunately, there are certain problems that can cause blockages within the bile ducts.

The most common cause of a bile duct obstruction is gallstones. When gallstones form they often form within the gallbladder, causing a blockage within the ducts themselves. When the ducts are blocked this causes the bile to back up and leak into the bloodstream. At this point, two different problems can occur. If the gallstone is between the gallbladder and the duct an infection (cholecystitis) can occur. Cholecystitis causes inflammation within the gallbladder. If you have cholecystitis you may experience serious upper abdominal pain (often on the right side), nausea and vomiting.

Sometimes bacteria forms around the bile duct blockage, affecting the liver and causing a serious bile duct infection known as ascending cholangitis. Just as with cholecystitis, you may experience upper right abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin) and sometimes a fever.

Cholecystitis and cholangitis are the two most common conditions that can affect or cause obstructions within the bile ducts. Less common causes include bile duct cancer (known as cholangiocarcinoma) and scar tissue buildup (also called strictures). Scar tissue may form as a result of an infection or from a previous surgery.

It’s important to recognize that a lot of these symptoms will come about suddenly and will be severe. When this happens it’s important that you turn to our gastroenterologist Dr. Kamran Ayub for a thorough evaluation. We will ask you questions regarding the symptoms you are experiencing and run a blood test to check your bilirubin (a substance found within bile) levels. We will also go through your detailed medical history and lifestyle to determine if you are at a high risk for liver disease.

Along with a blood test, we may also decide to perform a CT scan or other imaging tests to check the health and function of the gallbladder and bile duct. If we do find an infection you will be given a round of antibiotics to take. Sometimes the gallbladder will need to be removed after the infection has been fully treated.

Since these conditions will only get worse and can lead to liver failure, it is important that you seek the care of an expert gastrointestinal team like ours that can get you back on the road to recovery. The sooner you seek care the better for your long-term health. Call us today at 779 803 3756 at one of our three offices in Oak Lawn, and New Lenox, IL to learn more about the gastrointestinal services we offer. Also serving patients throughout Frankfort, Orland Park and Burr Ridge, IL.

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