A bile duct stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the common bile duct. This is a tube that moves bile from the liver to the small intestine. Bile is a substance that helps with digestion.
A bile duct 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:
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:
The goal of treatment is to correct the narrowing. This will allow bile to flow from the liver into the intestine.
This may involve:
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.
Treatment is successful most of the time. Long-term success depends on the cause of the stricture.
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).
Call your health care provider if symptoms recur after pancreatitis, cholecystectomy, or other biliary surgery.
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.