Pathologies of the biliary tract

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General surgery is the branch of surgery that deals mainly with pathologies affecting the abdominal and pelvic organs.

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The biliary system

The biliary system is composed of several ducts. The common bile duct is a small, tube-like structure formed where the common hepatic duct and the cystic duct join. Its role is to carry bile synthesized by the liver, to the gallbladder, where it is temporarily stored. The bile is, then, emptied into the upper part of the small intestine (the duodenum).

The main cause of biliary tract illness is hard to determine. In most cases, biliary tract illness can result from an inflammatory process caused, for example, by bile composition. The first symptoms of biliary tract illness are biliary pain, or biliary colic, followed by cholestasis jaundice syndrome. Cholestasis jaundice syndrome is defined as a decrease in bile flow due to impaired secretion by hepatocytes or to obstruction of bile flow. Cholestasis jaundice syndrome manifests by pruritis and by elevated alkaline phosphatase and gamma glutamyl transpeptidase in the blood stream. Biliary tract conditions are usually asymptomatic and usually remain diagnosed until serious inflammatory complications arise, such as, cholecystitis, acute pancreatitis, or cirrhosis.

The 3 principal pathologies of the biliary tract

There are 3 principal pathologies of the biliary tract:

  • Biliary retention
  • Tumors
  • Calcification

In case of biliary retention, bile doesn’t arrive to the duodenum and stagnates in the bile duct or in the gallbladder. This blockage creates an excess of pressure in the biliary tract, causing pain and biliary colic. This phenomenon can be caused by a tumor in biliary tract or of the pancreas head. These tumors, whether benign or malignant, can touch the intrahepatic or extrahepatic biliary tracts. Gallstones, on the other hand, develop in the gallbladder. They are caused by the gall bladder being clogged by biliary sludge. This sludge becomes calcified, creating gallstones.

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Fiche Pathologies of the biliary tract

  • Author : Florian Reinaud, MD
  • Date :

1305 peer-recommended general surgeons have been identified by concilio