Bile duct stones

Also known as choledocholithiasis

Bile duct stones are gallstones that can sometimes block the common bile duct

What is a bile duct?

Bile helps your body digest fat. Your bile duct takes bile from your gallbladder to your intestine. Sometimes, small stones of cholesterol can form inside the gallbladder and then get stuck in your bile duct. This condition is known as choledocholithiasis (bile duct stones).

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of bile duct stones? icon plus

    Usually, bile duct stones pass on their own. If they get stuck, they can cause the following symptoms:
    • severe abdominal pain (known as biliary colic)
    • jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
    • fever (high temperature)
    • pale-coloured faeces
    • nausea and vomiting
  • How are bile duct stones diagnosed? icon plus

    Your HCA UK or Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) consultant will start by discussing your symptoms with you. They may recommend a renal ultrasound. Carried out by one of our specialist radiology consultants, a renal ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of your liver, gallbladder and bile duct. It's the most effective way of detecting gallstones and bile duct stones.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Normally, bile duct stones only require treatment if they're causing symptoms like severe abdominal pain or jaundice. If you need treatment, your options might include:

    • sphincterotomy (surgery to cut into the bile duct to remove the stones or make it easier for them to pass)
    • cholecystectomy (surgery to remove your gallbladder and stones)
    • lithotripsy (laser treatment to break up the stones)

Our consultants

We're proud to work with leading gastroenterologists and hepatologists who are experts in managing conditions of the gastrointestinal region including the liver, and whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our locations

From complex liver and gastric surgery to diagnostic tests and procedures, we provide exceptional gastrointestinal care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Book an appointment

Our team can help with any enquiries or you can make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

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020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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