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What causes bile duct strictures?

Surgical errors are the leading cause of benign bile duct stricture for patients in Arizona and across the United States, according to statistics. Such mistakes occur in between 0.1 percent and 1 percent of all gallbladder operations.

A bile duct stricture happens when there is a narrowing of the bile duct, preventing the fluid from properly draining into the intestine and causing it to back up in the liver. The bile then enters a patient's bloodstream and causes obstructive jaundice. The condition can be caused by bile duct cancer or pancreatic cancer. Benign, or non-cancerous, bile duct strictures can be caused by chronic pancreatitis, various infections not common to the U.S. and surgical errors during laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

Bile duct injury symptoms from a laparoscopic cholecystectomy can appear soon after the operation or months later. Some symptoms linked with the condition include general malaise, persistent pain and discomfort, fevers and jaundice. Patients normally present to their doctors with bile leaking into their abdominal cavity. Bile duct injury treatment typically includes infection control and bile duct repair, which often requires complex surgery in specialized centers. Complications from bile duct injury may include liver problems and slow healing due to blood vessel damage.

Surgical mistakes like these cause thousands of patient injuries in the U.S. each year. Some patients obtain financial compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and/or health care facility responsible for the error. Typical damages awarded in such cases include medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Patients could learn more about their legal options by discussing the details of their case with an attorney.

Source: Center for Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases, "Bile Duct Strictures," March 1, 2017

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