Learn About Cholangitis

What is the definition of Cholangitis?

Cholangitis is an infection of the bile ducts, the tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and intestines. Bile is a liquid made by the liver that helps digest food.

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What are the causes of Cholangitis?

Cholangitis is most often caused by bacteria. This can occur when the duct is blocked by something, such as a gallstone or tumor. The infection causing this condition may also spread to the liver.

Risk factors include a previous history of gallstones, sclerosing cholangitis, HIV, narrowing of the common bile duct, and rarely, travel to countries where you might catch a worm or parasite infection.

What are the symptoms of Cholangitis?

The following symptoms may occur:

  • Pain on the upper right side or upper middle part of the abdomen. It may also be felt in the back or below the right shoulder blade. The pain may come and go and feel sharp, cramp-like, or dull.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Dark urine and clay-colored or pale stools.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice), which may come and go.
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What are the current treatments for Cholangitis?

Quick diagnosis and treatment are very important.

Antibiotics to cure infection are the first treatment done in most cases. ERCP or other surgical procedure is done when the person is stable.

People who are very ill or are quickly getting worse may need surgery right away.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Cholangitis?

The outcome is very often good with treatment, but poor without it.

What are the possible complications of Cholangitis?

Complications may include:

  • Sepsis
When should I contact a medical professional for Cholangitis?

Contact your health care provider if you have symptoms of cholangitis.

How do I prevent Cholangitis?

Treatment of gallstones, tumors, and infestations of parasites may reduce the risk for some people. A metal or plastic stent that is placed in the bile system may be needed to prevent the infection from returning.

Digestive system
Bile pathway
What are the latest Cholangitis Clinical Trials?
Unraveling the Mechanisms Underlying Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis Through a Multidisciplinary, Integrative Research Approach

Background: Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a rare chronic liver disease. It affects the bile ducts of the liver. It can result in bile duct infections, cirrhosis, cancer, and end stage liver disease. Researchers want to learn more about this disease.

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An Open Label, Phase 2 Study to Evaluate the Effect of A3907 on Safety, Tolerability, Pharmacokinetics, and Pharmacodynamics in Adults With Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)

Summary: This study will test a drug called A3907 to see how safe and tolerated it is for treating people with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC).

What are the Latest Advances for Cholangitis?
Residual choledocholithiasis after choledocholithotomy T-tube drainage: what is the best intervention strategy?
Budesonide with Low-Dose 6-Mercaptopurine as a Possible New Treatment for IgG4-Related Sclerosing Cholangitis and Systemic IgG4-Related Disease: A Case Report.
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A Case of Successful Management of Adult-Onset Linear IgA Bullous Disease With Sulfasalazine During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: May 04, 2022
Published By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Fogel EL, Sherman S. Diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 146.

Sifri CD, Madoff LC. Infections of the liver and biliary system (liver abscess, cholangitis, cholecystitis). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 75.