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Blocked bile duct

Treatment for bile duct obstructions

Bile duct strictures are blockages in the bile ducts. HCA UK's specialists explain how these are treated

About

The bile ducts form part of the digestive system. They carry bile, a substance that digests fat, from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. Strictures occur when there is a narrowing of the bile ducts, causing a blockage. They are generally found in the main bile duct and may lead to jaundice (yellowing skin).

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    The main treatment for bile duct strictures is an endoscopic retrograde cholangio pancreatogram (ERCP). During an ERCP, a tiny camera on the end of a narrow, flexible tube (an endoscope) is passed through the mouth and into the small intestine to see the bile ducts. Images are fed back to a computer for a consultant to analyse. A short metal or plastic tube (stent) is then put in place to open the narrow bile ducts.

    We make sure you’re fully informed of what to expect before and after surgery, with specialist nurses to support you during recovery.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    You’ll be given a local anaesthetic to help you feel drowsy and relaxed during the procedure, but it won’t put you to sleep. You may also be given an oral antibiotic about an hour before.

    You’ll need to avoid eating or drinking for six hours before the procedure so that your consultant can see clear images through the camera.

    Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you and answer any questions you might have.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    The procedure is relatively straightforward and usually takes around 30-40 minutes. You will generally be able to go home on the same day.

    Afterwards, you may have some discomfort in the abdomen (tummy) and some people also experience a sore throat. This should only last for a few days and simple pain killers, such as paracetamol, should help.
Consultant in theatres

Our consultants

We're proud to work with leading experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

  • facility-pgh-hero-579x579

    The Princess Grace Hospital

    42-52 Nottingham Place

    London W1U 5NY

    Appointments 020 3131 7216
    Enquiries 020 3130 6833

  • Wellington-south-hero-facility-582-582

    The Wellington Hospital

    Wellington Place

    London NW8 9LE

    Appointments 0207 483 5148
    Enquiries 020 3131 7478

  • London Bridge Hospital Facility

    London Bridge Hospital

    27 Tooley Street

    London

    SE1 2PR

    Appointments and Enquiries 020 7234 2009
    Imaging Appointments 020 7234 2773
    Switchboard 020 7407 3100

  • The Lister Hospital Facility

    The Lister Hospital

    Chelsea Bridge Road

    London

    SW1W 8RH

    Appointments 020 7811 4000
    Enquiries 020 3131 4978

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

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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