What are the symptoms of choledocholithiasis?

What are the symptoms of choledocholithiasis?

You may not have any symptoms. Unless your gallstones cause a blockage, you may never even know they’re there. If you do have symptoms, it means that a stone is blocking your common bile duct. The first sign of a blockage will be the symptoms of biliary colic. These can include:

Abdominal pain. Biliary pain occurs in episodes lasting from one to several hours, usually after a meal. It grows for the first 20 minutes and gradually declines after that. Most people feel it in their upper right abdomen, but it may also radiate to your right side or shoulder blade.

Nausea and vomiting. Biliary colic is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. You’ll notice that vomiting doesn’t relieve the pain, as it does with some other types, like migraines. If biliary colic isn’t as intense, you may only notice a general lack of appetite.

Jaundice. When bile backs up and leaks into your bloodstream, it may show up as a yellow tint to your skin or the whites of your eyes. It may also turn your pee a darker color. Jaundice can come and go, like biliary colic. But it’ll keep coming back until the blockage is cleared.

Fever. Severe inflammation in your biliary system may cause a fever. Fever may also be a sign of an infection. When your bile ducts are blocked, bacteria aren’t flushed out as usual.

What are the possible complications of choledocholithiasis?

A gallstone that blocks your common bile duct will cause bile to back up behind the blockage. This can affect all of your ducts and organs connected to it, including your gallbladder, pancreas and liver. It causes inflammation, breeds infection and can lead to long-term tissue damage. Complications include:

Infection. A blocked bile duct is an easy breeding ground for bacterial infections. An infection in your biliary system is very dangerous. It can spread to your liver and your bloodstream. An infection in your bloodstream (septicemia) can lead to life-threatening complications (sepsis).

Cholangitis. Choledocholithiasis is the most common cause of cholangitis, inflammation and infection of your common bile duct. Backed-up bile causes your bile duct to swell, which further slows the flow of bile. Inflammation and infection can spread from your common bile duct to its branches, including those that run through your liver. It can cause your liver to swell.

Cholecystitis. Cholecystitis is inflammation in your gallbladder. Bile backing up into your gallbladder will cause it to swell. This is painful and can stop it from functioning well and eventually damages the organ. This is the most common cause of gallbladder disease.

Gallstone pancreatitis. Your bile ducts share the same exit channel into your intestines as your pancreas. Gallstones that block this common channel can also block secretions from your pancreas. These secretions, which contain very potent enzymes, will back up into your pancreas and cause severe inflammation and organ damage called pancreatitis. Gallstones obstructing your bile ducts is the most common cause of nonalcohol-related pancreatitis.

What causes choledocholithiasis?

Your liver makes bile out of materials it filters from your blood. These materials include cholesterol, bilirubin, bile salts and lecithin. Gallstones occur when there’s too much of one of these — usually cholesterol, but sometimes bilirubin — and the excess materials turn into a kind of sediment.

The sediment collects at the bottom of your gallbladder or your common bile duct and eventually hardens. The stones gradually grow as sediment continues to wash over them. This takes many years. Most gallstones form in your gallbladder and travel with the flow of bile into your common bile duct.