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.
Gallstone in the bile duct; Bile duct stone
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
About 15% of people with gallstones will develop stones in the common bile duct, 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 usually do not occur unless the stone blocks the common bile duct. Symptoms that may occur include:
- in the right upper or middle upper abdomen that may:
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin and whites of eyes)
Signs and tests
Tests that show the location of stones in the bile duct include the following:
Your doctor may order the following blood tests:
The goal of treatment is to relieve the blockage.
Treatment may involve:
- Surgery to remove the gallbladder and stones
- and a procedure called a sphincterotomy, which makes a surgical cut into the muscle in the common bile duct to allow stones to pass or be removedERCP
Blockage and infection caused by stones in the biliary tract can be life threatening. However, with prompt diagnosis and treatment, the outcome is usually very good.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:
- You develop abdominal pain, with or without fever, and there is no known cause
- You develop jaundice
- You have other symptoms of choledocholithiasis
Chari RS, Shah SA. Biliary system. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL. 18th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2008:chap. 54.
Glasgow RE, Mulvihill SJ. Treatment of gallstone disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. . 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 66.