Choledocholithiasis (also called bile duct stones or gallstones in the bile duct) is the presence of a gallstone in the common bile duct. Gallstones usually form in your gallbladder. The bile duct is the small tube that carries bile from the gallbladder to the intestine. The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ below your liver in the upper right side of your abdomen.
However, about 15 percent of all people with gallstones will have gallstones in the bile duct, or choledocholithiasis
Gallstones in the bile duct may not cause symptoms for months or even years in unobstructed. But if a stone becomes lodged in the duct and obstructs it, you may experience the following:
The pain caused by gallstones in the bile duct can be sporadic, or it can linger. The pain may be mild at times and then suddenly severe. Severe pain may require emergency medical treatment.
When a gallstone is stuck in the bile duct, the bile can become infected. The bacteria from the infection can spread rapidly, it can become a life-threatening infection. Other possible complications include biliary cirrhosis and pancreatitis.
Your doctor may also order one or more of the following blood tests to look for an infection and to check liver and pancreas function:
Treating gallstones in the bile duct focuses on relieving the blockage. These treatments may include:
The most common treatment for gallstones in the bile duct is biliary endoscopic sphincterotomy(BES). During a BES procedure, a balloon- or basket-type device is inserted into the bile duct and used to extract the stone or stones. About 85 percent of bile duct stones can be removed with BES.
Patients with gallstones in the bile duct and gallstones still in the gallbladder may be treated by removing the gallbladder.
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