Bile Duct Stone

At the Henry Ford Liver Disease Center, our highly skilled team of specialists is among the most experienced in the region in treating bile duct stones. Our minimally invasive techniques are one reason we are among the most sought after referral centers in the region.

Bile duct care at Henry Ford: Why choose us

At Henry Ford, we are regional leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, like bile duct stones.

We offer:

  • Expert gastroenterologists: Our specialists have advanced training in performing complex procedures. Our gastroenterology division was one of just 27 organizations nationally recognized by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy for safety and quality of care during endoscopy.
  • Minimally invasive treatments: This year, our experienced gastroenterologists are on target to perform the most endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) treatments in the region. They’re on-call 24 hours a day/365 days a year to handle emergency blockages. Learn more about ERCP and our endoscopy services.
  • Nationally recognized research: We are national leaders in digestive disorder and liver disease research. We have over 1,300 ongoing research studies that include innovations in diagnostics, treatments, techniques and technology. Learn more about our research and clinical trials.

What are bile duct stones?

Bile duct stones are blockages in the bile duct.

The bile ducts are tubes that transport bile from the liver and gallbladder (which stores bile) to the small intestine. Bile is fluid that helps digest the fats in food and clears toxic substances from your body.

Most often, bile duct stones start in the gallbladder as gallstones and pass into the bile ducts. Sometimes, bile duct stones form in the bile ducts.

Risk factors for bile duct stones

Risk factors for developing bile duct stones include:

  • Age: Your risk increases as you get older.
  • Gender: More women develop bile duct stones than men.
  • Obesity
  • Past gallbladder issues: Includes gallstones and chronic gallbladder infection
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of gallstones

Symptoms of bile duct stones

Bile duct stones may not cause symptoms for years. However, when the bile ducts are blocked, bile builds up in the liver. This causes symptoms similar to those experienced with gallstones.

When bile duct stones cause significant blockages, symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain in the upper or middle-upper abdomen
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark urine
  • Pale-colored stools

How are bile duct stones diagnosed?

At Henry Ford, we offer the full range of advanced imaging tests to determine what your symptoms mean. This gives our specialists the details they need to design the safest, most effective treatments for you.

Our advanced diagnostic tests include:

  • Blood tests\Sophisticated imaging scans: To take detailed pictures of your entire gastrointestinal system. These include ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans.
  • Minimally invasive, endoscopic procedures: These advanced procedures use an endoscope (a thin, flexible lighted microscope) and an advanced fiber optic camera to look down your throat and examine your bile ducts and surrounding organs.

Learn more about endoscopy and liver disease diagnosis at Henry Ford.

Bile duct stones treatments at Henry Ford Hospital

At Henry Ford, we offer access to technology, techniques and tools available at few other institutions. Our treatments include:

  • Medications
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): Minimally invasive procedure using an endoscope and X rays to diagnose and treat problems associated with bile duct stones. At Henry Ford, we’re one of the few hospitals in Michigan using special ERCP treatments to break up large stones or stones that are difficult to remove.
  • Endoscopic stenting: Minimally invasive procedure that relieves blockages in the bile ducts using small mesh tubes that stretch them
  • Laparoscopic surgery: Exploratory surgery where your surgeon inserts a tiny camera into your abdomen through a tiny keyhole incision to remove stones

Learn more about endoscopy and the other gastrointestinal treatments we offer.

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