6A Napier Road, Annexe Block #05-35C Gleneagles Hospital
Mount Alvernia Medical Centre A  #06-07,  820 Thomson Road

Hepatobiliary Sepsis

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What is Hepatobiliary Sepsis?

The liver, bile ducts, and gallbladder are collectively known as the hepatobiliary system. They aid in digestion and help remove waste products from the body.

Sepsis is the body’s overreaction to an infection. It is life-threatening and can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and even death if not treated early.

Hepatobiliary sepsis occurs when there is a blockage within the hepatobiliary system – this blockage prevents waste products from being removed from the body, resulting in a bacterial infection.

This results in the over-reaction of the body in the form of sepsis. Since the infection originated in the hepatobiliary system, this type of sepsis is known as hepatobiliary sepsis.

What causes Hepatobiliary Sepsis?

Hepatobiliary sepsis can be caused by:

Bacterial infection

  • Gallstones or tumour blocking the biliary tract
  • Infections that originated in other areas of the body (e.g., lungs)
  • Post-operative infections



  • Ascaris lumbricoides (also known as roundworm)
  • Liver flukes
  • Echinococcus

What are the common symptoms of Hepatobiliary Sepsis in Singapore?

If you have one or more of the following symptoms, you could be suffering from hepatobiliary sepsis.

  • Severe right upper quadrant abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Jaundice, such as yellow eyes and skin, pale stools, dark urine, itchiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nauseousness
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Clammy skin
  • Feeling cold
  • Shortness of breath
  • Disoriented or confused

Who is at risk of Hepatobiliary Sepsis in Singapore?

Individuals with the following issues are at a higher risk of hepatobiliary sepsis:

  • Jaundice
  • Liver disease
  • Hepatomegaly (enlarged liver)
  • Liver cirrhosis

How is Hepatobiliary Sepsis diagnosed?

The symptoms of sepsis are profound and just like a heart attack or stroke, early intervention is key to survival. Once symptoms are presented, the following things will take place to aid your physician in diagnosing you:

  • Medical history: This includes asking questions relating to your symptoms, any condition(s) you might be suffering from, medications, allergies and surgeries in the past 6 months
  • Physical examination: This involves taking your blood pressure, heart rate, physical palpations of your abdomen, oxygen saturation
  • Blood tests: You might have to do tests including liver function test, kidney function test, levels of white blood cells, presence of bacteria
  • Scans: X-rays, MRIs, CT-scans, or MR elastography may be conducted

What are the treatment options for Hepatobiliary Sepsis in Singapore?

Treatment options are dependent on many factors such as the cause of your sepsis and where the infection occurred. For example, if the infection happened due to a blocked bile duct, it would need to be flushed and drained. A stent may also be inserted into your liver to drain the infection. In addition to that, antibiotics will also be administered.

There are two ways in which antibiotics can be administered, orally and intravenously, depending on the severity of your sepsis. You must complete the whole course of your antibiotics, even if you are feeling better.

Frequently asked questions

Is hepatobiliary sepsis contagious?
No, sepsis is not contagious, but the infection that caused hepatobiliary sepsis may be contagious.
Is hepatobiliary sepsis fatal?
It can be if it is not treated in time.
Is hepatobiliary sepsis common?
No, it is not a common disease but that is why it is important to know the symptoms so that treatment can be administered in time.

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    We treat all types of gastrointestinal conditions and specialise in performing endoscopic procedures such as Advanced Endoscopy, ERCP and EUS
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    6A Napier Road, Annexe Block #05-35C Gleneagles Hospital
    Singapore 258500
    820 Thomson Road, #06-07 Mount Alvernia Medical Centre A Singapore 574623

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