Biliary Stricture


Major Spencer
A biliary, or bile duct, stricture, is an abnormal narrowing of the common bile duct. Dr. Jerman, what can you tell us about biliary strictures?

Dr. Jerman
Well, Major Spencer, a biliary stricture is often caused by injury to the bile ducts during surgery. This may happen, for example, after surgery to remove the gallbladder. Injury may cause damage or scar tissue that narrows the bile duct, which prevents bile from moving from the liver to the small intestine. Bile that builds up in the liver can damage liver cells and cause scarring, called cirrhosis.

In addition to gallbladder surgery, other causes of biliary stricture can include:

  • Cancer of the bile duct, liver, or pancreas
  • Damage and scarring due to a biliary stone, or a gallstone lodged in the bile duct
  • Pancreatitis, and
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis, a disease caused by inflammation of the bile ducts

Symptoms of biliary stricture can include:

  • Abdominal pain on the upper right side
  • Chills and fever
  • Itching
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • Nausea and vomiting, and
  • Pale or clay-colored stool

Treatment for biliary stricture may include surgery to remove the stricture and rejoin the common bile duct to the small intestine, or in some cases, to place a stent in the bile duct to keep the stricture open.