Is choledocholithiasis an emergency?

Is choledocholithiasis an emergency?

A gallstone, or several, in your common bile duct isn’t necessarily an emergency, but it’s a risk. Smaller gallstones may pass safely through your common bile duct to your intestines and out of your body. The risk is that they’ll become stuck there and grow large enough over time to cause a blockage.

Because of this risk, healthcare providers prefer to treat common bile duct stones immediately when they find them. They’ll recommend an endoscopic procedure to examine and, most likely, remove the stones. That means a gastroenterologist will access your bile ducts via a catheter passed down your throat.

What can choledocholithiasis lead to?

If a gallstone stays in your common bile duct and grows large enough to block the flow of bile through the duct, it endangers your entire biliary system. That’s the network of organs and vessels that bile travels through. A blockage can cause inflammation, infection and life-threatening complications.

How common is choledocholithiasis?

About 10% of people have gallstones, but most of them form in their gallbladder. About 15% of people with gallstones have them in their common bile duct. Gallstones will never bother most people. Only 20% of people with gallstones will have complications that require treatment.