Bile is a liquid substance produced by liver which helps in digestion of fats from the food that you eat. It also gives yellow color to your stools. Bile is stored in gallbladder and when you eat food, gallbladder releases bile into the small intestine (duodenum). The tube that carries bile from gallbladder to the small intestine is called bile duct.
Whenever there is blockage or obstruction in bile duct, it enlarges in it size or dilates. The first symptom you may notice is pale colored stool and dark urine if bile duct is blocked, if the blockage progresses further it causes yellow discoloration of your eyes and skin.
Causes Of Enlarged Common Bile Duct
An obstruction of the bile duct which results into its enlargement is caused due many causes. It always needs further investigation. The common causes of bile duct enlargement are:
- Gallstones: Small gallstones dislodges from the gallbladder, travel all the way in the bile duct and get impacted in the ampula of vater, it is the narrowest site of the bile duct where gallstones can get impacted. The pancreatic duct also drains in this area, before entering in the duodenum.
- Inflammation of bile duct: an inflammation of bile duct due to infection can give rise to its enlargement.
- Enlargement of lymph node in the transverse fissure of the visceral surface of the liver where the vein and artery enter and hepatic duct leaves. It is also called porta hepatis.
- Cysts in the common bile duct.
- Post operative stricture in the region of bile duct.
- Carcinoma of the bile duct accounts for one percent of all malignant neoplasm. In ninety percent of cases gall stones are present. The condition is more prevalent in women than in men. Carcinoma is rare under the age of forty. Malignant cancer of bile duct is known as cholangiocarcinoma. It is less common than gallbladder cancer. The cancer may grow slowly without pain. It eventually spreads throughout the liver.
- Tumor of head of pancreas can also cause enlargement of bile duct. There may be associated weight loss.
Symptoms Of Dilated Common Bile Duct
Enlarged bile duct symptoms vary depending upon the cause of enlargement or dilation:
Gallstones in bile duct leading to its enlargement:
- Usually there is a long history of flatulent dyspepsia (eructation).
- Frequent episodes of abdominal colic.
- Pain is severe in the upper abdomen due to impaction of the gallstone in the bile duct. It is difficult to relieve this pain. A parous woman will often say that the pain of childbirth is preferable than this pain.
- An impacted gallstone in the bile duct can cause pancreatitis.
- Jaundice: within 2 days jaundice sets in. The urine becomes dark with bile, and the feces become pale.
- Skin begins to itch.
- Nausea and vomiting.
Symptoms due to strictures:
- About 15 percent of bile duct injuries are detected at the time of operation. 85 percent are detected after the operation. They manifest as profuse and persistent discharge of the bile through the drainage tube or by deepening jaundice.
Enlarged bile duct symptom resulting from carcinoma:
- In half of the cases gallstone coexists.
- Pain may be mild.
- Decreased appetite.
- Weight loss.
- Mild fever.
- Itching all over the body.
- Dark yellow or orange urine.
- Pale or white colored bowel motions.