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Biliary Procedures

Biliary procedures are interventional radiology procedures that allow your surgeon to better visualize the liver, bile ducts and gallbladder.
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About biliary procedures

About biliary procedures

The liver is responsible for producing the bile juice (a fluid that aids digestion). This bile juice flows through thin tubes called the bile ducts and reaches the gallbladder (where it is stored). From here, the gallbladder releases this bile juice to your digestive organs (such as the small intestine). This system is known as the biliary tree. 

When the bile ducts become narrowed or blocked due to underlying conditions such as gallstones, the bile juice cannot flow properly. This obstruction causes inflammation or infection of the gallbladder and other organs. 

Biliary interventions are minimal access procedures that help in the identification and treatment of such blockages.

Common Biliary Procedures

Percutaneous Cholangiography

Percutaneous cholangiography is a radiological procedure to examine the anatomy of the bile ducts. To put it briefly, it is an X-ray of the bile ducts, both, inside and outside the liver. It is done with the help of a thin contrast dye that helps your radiologist locate and visualise the bile duct problems. 

Biliary Stenting Procedure

Biliary stenting procedure is an interventional procedure that offers temporary relief from biliary duct obstructions through insertion of stents. These stents are made up of plastic or metal. The length and material of the stent is determined by the length of the strictures. More than one stent can be placed to help treat the blockage. 

Biliary Drainage Procedure

In a biliary drainage procedure, a catheter is placed directly into the bile ducts of the liver to drain bile juice directly. This procedure is utilised when excess bile fluid gets collected in the liver as a result of the blockage in the bile ducts. There are different types of biliary drainage procedures, the most common one being Percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage (PTCD).

Biliary Stone Extraction

Biliary stone extraction is an endoscopic procedure to detect and remove bile duct stones. Bile duct stones are gallstones that form and get collected inside the gallbladder. There are several measures to extract biliary stone. One of the most common procedures is endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

Uses of Biliary Interventions

Biliary procedures can help in the diagnosis and treatment of the following conditions:

  • Cholangitis (inflammation of the liver)
  • Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder) 
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis (inflammation of the bile ducts with scarring)
  • Cancer of the pancreas,  gallbladder, bile duct or liver
  • Bile duct stones 
  • Injury to the bile ducts during surgery
  • Infection
Risks and benefits of biliary interventions

Biliary procedures have various advantages for the patients. Common benefits include:

  • Less scarring 
  • Minimal invasion 
  • Faster recovery time 
  • Shorter hospitalization 

However, like with any other procedure, biliary interventions also have certain risks associated with it. Common risks include:

  • Infection 
  • Allergic reaction
  • Slight bleeding 
  • Damage to the gallbladder 
  • Tube blockage 
  • Lung infection 



Bile leaking into the body can lead to various health problems such as abdominal pain, fever and swelling in the tummy.

When the gallbladder is removed, the bile flows directly from the bile duct into the liver. 

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