What are gallbladder and biliary tract diseases?
Gallbladder and biliary tract diseases are also known as choledocholithiasis. The gallbladder is pear-shaped, having a sac-like structure located near the stomach and attached to the liver’s lower side. Biliary tract diseases are diseases of the bile ducts and gallbladder. Bile is a fluid produced by the liver that flows from the liver through the bile duct intestines and then back to the bile ducts and liver. The human body is the most complex structure, and if the duct is damaged or blocked, it can lead to several infectious diseases.
Symptoms of Biliary tract
Symptoms may differ from person to person and as per the severity of the disease. Below are some common symptoms of the biliary tract.
- Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss
- Feeling nauseated (vomiting)
- Abdominal pain on the upper side of the abdomen
- Greasy stools
- Jaundice (eyes and skin turns yellow)
List of biliary tract diseases
It is a sac-like structure near the liver. It is used to store the bile, which is further used to absorb the fat. When the functioning of the gallbladder is damaged, some crystal-type structure starts to form, which slowly takes the form of a stone. The formation of stone in the gallbladder is a common condition.
Inflammation of the Liver (Hepatitis)
When the liver is damaged or inflamed, it makes it difficult for the liver to function. Certain lifestyle factors can lead to liver damage, like intake of excessive alcohol, consumption of toxins, and certain types of medications that can have severe effects on the liver.
Inflammation of Gallbladder
Inflammation of the gallbladder is also called Cholecystitis. It is caused when the gallstones block the tube that leads to the gallbladder. This blockage and bile buildup in the gallbladder causes inflammation.
Bile Duct Stones
When the stones get stuck in the bile duct, it is known as bile duct stone. Bile duct stones, in medical terms, are called choledocholithiasis. When the bile duct is damaged, there are chances that the pancreas, liver, and digestive tract may also be harmed.
Bile Duct Blockages
A bile duct or biliary obstruction occurs when more than one bile duct in your body gets blocked. This causes bile to build up in your liver and raises your blood bilirubin levels.
Inflammation of Bile Duct
The bile duct system transports bile from your liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. Cholangitis is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection that occurs abruptly.
What are the Risk factors in Biliary Tract Diseases?
Risk factors of biliary tract diseases include:-
- Increasing age
- Liver transplant
- Weight loss
- Certain prescription medications
The 4 F’s that are “Fair, Female, Fat and Fertile” summarise the risk factors that may lead to the development of gallstones.
How can biliary disease be detected and diagnosed
Depending on the suspected bile duct condition, several tests are conducted. However, the following tests are often used to detect bile duct disorders:
- Blood tests
- Endoscopic ultrasound
- Liver function tests
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
- Liver biopsy
What is the treatment plan for biliary tract disease?
Patients can use prescribed medications to treat gallbladder infections and maybe reduce the size of gallstones, but ultimately the only solution to gallbladder stones is surgery. Exercise and a balanced, low-trans-fat diet can also help with circulation and gallstones. If stones in the gallbladder are already formed, and they are also showing symptoms, then it clearly means that the gallbladder is not functioning well, and the gallbladder is not healthy and is diseased. In such cases, it becomes essential to remove the gallbladder because it is already a diseased organ, and if it is not removed, there are chances that it can again form gallbladder stones.
The biliary tract consists of organs and ducts, which include gallbladder and bile ducts.
The common symptoms of the bile duct are pain in the abdominal area, especially on the upper right side, fever, nausea, and vomiting, itching and discoloured or pale type bowel movement, and jaundice.
If bile goes into the stomach, it leads to inflammation of the stomach lining, and this is known as bile reflux gastritis.
Gallbladder problems do lead to changes in bowel movement and digestion. This unexplained and frequent diarrhea can also be a sign of chronic gallbladder diseases.