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Choledocholithiasis

Gallstone in the bile duct; Bile duct stone

Choledocholithiasis is the presence of at least one gallstone in the common bile duct. The stone may be made up of bile pigments or calcium and cholesterol salts.

Images

Digestive system
Kidney cyst with gallstones - CT scan
Choledocholithiasis
Gallbladder
Gallbladder
Bile pathway

Causes

About 1 in 7 people with gallstones will develop stones in the common bile duct. This is the small tube that carries bile from the gallbladder to the intestine.

Risk factors include a history of gallstones. However, choledocholithiasis can occur in people who have had their gallbladder removed.

Symptoms

Often, there are no symptoms unless the stone blocks the common bile duct. Symptoms may include:

Exams and Tests

Tests that show the location of stones in the bile duct include the following:

Your health care provider may order the following blood tests:

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to relieve the blockage.

Treatment may involve:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Blockage and infection caused by stones in the biliary tract can be life threatening. Most of the time, the outcome is good if the problem is detected and treated early.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:

Related Information

Bile
Biliary system
Gallstones
Cirrhosis
Cholangitis

References

Almeida R, Zenlea T. Choledocholithiasis. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2019. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:317-318.

Fogel EL, Sherman S. Diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 155.

Jackson PG, Evans SRT. Biliary system. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 54.

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Review Date: 3/26/2019  

Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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