Bile duct stones are the presence of crystalline structures in the common bile duct, a small tube that carries bile from the gallbladder to the intestine. It is also known as choledocholithiasis. The stones are made of bile pigments or calcium and cholesterol salts.
Sharp, intermittent pain in the right upper or middle upper abdomen, fever, loss of appetite, yellowing of skin and whites of eyes (jaundice), nausea and vomiting usually occur when the stone blocks the common bile duct.
These stones cause biliary colic, very specific type of pain occurring when the duct becomes partially obstructed. Duct dilation, jaundice (yellow discoloration of skin and sclera) and eventually cholangitis, a bacterial infection of the common bile duct occurring when there is complete obstruction of the duct.
The goal of the treatment is to relieve the obstruction caused by the stones. Treatment options for these stones include surgery, ERCP and a procedure called sphincterotomy. Surgery is performed to remove the gall bladder and the stones.
ERCP: Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is a technique that combines the use of endoscopy and fluoroscopy to diagnose and treat conditions of the bile ducts.
Sphincterotomy: It is new endoscopic technique developed to examine and treat abnormalities of the bile ducts, pancreas and gall bladder. It is the surgical cutting of the muscle in the common bile duct.