Bile duct stones are hard stone-like objects that get stuck inside the bile duct, which is the small tube that carries bile from the gallbladder to the small intestine where it helps digest fats. Bile duct stones are the same as gallstones, they have just formed outside or moved from the gallbladder. Generally, gallstones that move from the gallbladder pass through the bile duct, but sometimes they get stuck. If that happens, there is a risk that your bile will become infected. The bacteria from this infection can spread quickly and can cause a life-threatening situation.
Common signs and symptoms of bile duct stones include:
The pain from bile duct stones may come and go or it may remain constant. It may also be mild, then suddenly severe. (Severe pain may mimic the symptoms of a heart attack.) If you have the above symptoms, especially if you have a history of gallstones or gallbladder disease, schedule an appointment with one of the providers at Digestive Health Associates of Cheyenne. He or she will evaluate your condition and likely run tests to make a diagnosis, then talk with you about your treatment options. Leaving the condition unmanaged may cause swelling, irritation, and pain in the liver and/or gallbladder. Swelling may cause life-threatening complications, including a burst gallbladder or a gallbladder infection.
After confirming the presence of bile duct stones using an imaging test such as an endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) or endoscopic retrograde cholangiography (ERCP) and using blood tests to look for infection and check liver and pancreas function, the next step is typically to remove the stones. Our physicians usually remove them with surgery, and it is not uncommon to remove the gallbladder at the same time as a preventative measure to prevent the stones from returning.
Our board-certified, experienced physicians at Digestive Health Associates of Cheyenne strive to provide patients with the best diagnosis and treatment options available. Contact us today.
At Digestive Health Associates, we are dedicated to helping you achieve and maintain an optimal level of digestive health.