What risk factors are associated with choledocholithiasis?
You may be more likely to get a gallstone in your common bile duct if you:
Have chronic cholangitis. Choledocholithiasis is a major cause of cholangitis, but it can also work the other way around. If you have inflammation in your bile ducts from another cause, it may cause bile to slow and stall in your bile ducts, leading to sedimentation and gallstones.
Have had gallstones before. Most people with gallstones don’t have complications, but people who’ve had them before are more likely to have them again. Even if you’ve had your gallbladder removed to treat gallstones, rarely, you may still develop new stones in your bile ducts.
You may be more likely to have gallstones in general if you:
Have high cholesterol. Most (75% of) gallstones are formed from excess cholesterol in your blood. Other bile ingredients (bile salts and lecithin) are supposed to help emulsify the cholesterol, but if there’s an imbalance between them, this doesn’t work.
Have female hormones. Estrogen increases cholesterol, and progesterone slows gallbladder contractions, which increases sedimentation. Both hormones are higher during certain periods in female reproductive life, and hormone replacement therapy can also elevate them.
DIAGNOSIS AND TESTS
How is choledocholithiasis diagnosed?
Gallstones in your bile duct usually aren’t discovered unless they cause symptoms. If you seek healthcare for symptoms of biliary colic or jaundice, your healthcare provider will investigate with blood tests and imaging tests. Blood tests will show the buildup of bile, and imaging will find the blockage.