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DefinitionCholangitis is an infection of the common bile duct, which carries bile (which helps in digestion) from the liver to the gallbladder and then to the intestines.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Cholangitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection, which can occur when the duct is obstructed by a gallstone; stricture, or tumor . Flukes and worms can sometimes become lodged in the bile duct and lead to this problem, but this is not common in the United States.
Signs and tests
Tests that show obstruction or infection of the bile duct:
Blood tests that may be affected include:
TreatmentAntibiotic therapy can eliminate the infection. Obstructed bile ducts may be drained by ERCP or by PTCA . Flukes and worms can be eliminated with appropriate medications.
Expectations (prognosis)The outcome is usually good with treatment, but poor without it.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms suggestive of cholangitis develop.
PreventionTreatment of gallstones , tumors, and infestations (flukes and worms) may reduce the risk for some people. The placement of metal or plastic stents within the bile system may be necessary to prevent recurrence.
Update Date: 10/27/2002Jenifer K. Lehrer, M.D., Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT