Biliary Obstruction Specialist

Illinois Gastroenterology Group -  - Gastroenterology

Illinois Gastroenterology Group

Gastroenterology located in Arlington Heights, IL & Elk Grove Village, IL

Biliary obstruction is a rare condition affecting only 5 of every 1,000 Americans (0.5% of the population). Biliary obstruction is a potentially dangerous condition that requires prompt medical attention. The experienced gastroenterology team at Illinois Gastroenterology Group in Elk Grove and Arlington Heights, Illinois, diagnoses and treats biliary obstruction with state-of-the-art surgical procedures. If you’re looking for an expert gastroenterologist, call Illinois Gastroenterology Group or schedule a consultation online today.

Biliary Obstruction Q & A

What is a Biliary Obstruction?

A biliary obstruction happens when one of your bile ducts is blocked. You have two types of bile ducts: intrahepatic and extrahepatic. 

Your intrahepatic ducts are a system of small tubes in your liver that collects bile and moves it into your extrahepatic ducts. Your extrahepatic ducts move bile from your liver and gallbladder into your small intestine.

A biliary obstruction can develop anywhere in your bile duct system.

What Causes a Biliary Obstruction?

Gallstones are one of the most common causes of a biliary duct obstruction. Other conditions that cause biliary obstructions include:

  • Inflammation of your bile ducts
  • Trauma
  • Biliary stricture (abnormal narrowing of the duct)
  • Cysts
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Pancreatitis
  • Tumors
  • Infections like hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Severe liver damage


Your risk of a biliary obstruction increases if you have a history of gallstones, chronic pancreatitis, or pancreatic cancer. Additionally, obesity, rapid weight loss, and injuries to the right side of your abdomen increase your chances of developing a biliary obstruction.

What are the Symptoms of a Biliary Obstruction?

Biliary obstructions cause a variety of symptoms that range in severity. For example, you could experience:

  • Dark-colored urine
  • Jaundice (skin becomes yellow)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Light-colored stools
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fever


If left untreated, a biliary obstruction can cause severe complications, including infections, sepsis, chronic liver disease, and biliary cirrhosis.

How is a Biliary Obstruction Diagnosed?

The team at Illinois Gastroenterology Group use a physical exam and several diagnostic tests to identify a biliary obstruction. 

For example, they order blood tests to check your liver function and to rule out other conditions like cholecystitis, increased conjugated bilirubin levels, or high liver enzymes.

Your provider might also order an ultrasound, MRI, or a biliary radionuclide scan (HIDA) to look for signs of an obstruction.

How is a Biliary Obstruction Treated?

Treatment depends on the condition causing your obstruction. For example, if you have a trapped gallstone, your provider could use endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to remove any blockages and open your biliary ducts.

However, if your obstruction is more severe, you’ll need a more invasive procedure or a cholecystectomy to remove the blockage.

Call Illinois Gastroenterology Group or make an appointment online today to talk to one of the experts about your symptoms.