The bile duct transports bile from the liver to the gallbladder for storage, and from the gallbladder through the pancreas and into the small intestine when it is required for digestion. Bile is essential for digestion because it helps to break down fats and aids in the removal of waste products.
Bile duct strictures, also known as bile duct obstructions, are the narrowing or blockage of the bile ducts, which then slows down or completely disrupts the transportation of bile from the liver to the gallbladder and beyond. Strictures of the bile duct could be due to either malignant or benign lesions.
What are the common causes?
Bile duct strictures are either congenital (you were born with it) or acquired, and as mentioned, may be malignant or benign in nature.
These are the causes of bile duct strictures:
- Injury to the bile duct: this could happen during gallbladder removal surgery.
- Blockage: gallbladder stones that form in the gallbladder may travel through the bile duct and get stuck in it; they are subsequently known as bile duct stones. If there is a bile duct stone blocking the bile duct, bile will not be able to exit and travel to the necessary areas.
- Bile duct infection: an infection could cause the bile duct to become inflamed and swollen causing it to narrow.
- Cancer: malignant in nature, a tumour could be big enough to cause the bile ducts to narrow, thus preventing the seamless flow of bile.
- Pancreatitis: inflammation of the pancreas may cause an obstruction to the bile duct.