Your bile ducts are not something that doctors often talk to you about, but they are extremely important to your health and well being. Bile ducts work to carry bile from your liver and gallbladder through your pancreas and small intestine. If the bile ducts are blocked, it can affect your health and eventually be life threatening.
What Does Bile Do?
Bile is a fluid that helps the body to digest fats. Bile travels through the bile ducts whenever we eat something, helping to break the food down and keep digestion normal. Bile ducts may become blocked due to infections and gallstones, or may be blocked by cancer. Bile duct blockages prevent the proper absorption of food (which can cause nutritional deficiencies) and can cause pain. If not treated quickly, blockages can cause infections or allow conditions to worsen.
How Are Biliary Obstructions Treated?
Biliary obstructions are often diagnosed and treated using ERCP, as this procedure can be used for both if the cause of blockage is gallstones. If cancer is a suspected cause of blockage, an ERCP can be used to obtain a sample of tissue for a biopsy while the bile ducts are being examined. If an ERCP can be avoided, however, you may wish to opt for an alternative, as ERCP malpractice and errors are common. It may be possible to use MRIS, CT scans, ultrasounds, or cholangiography for diagnosis, though the alternative treatment may be surgery.
Keeping Bile Ducts Healthy
Keeping the bile ducts healthy can help to prevent bile duct blockages from forming. High cholesterol and obesity put you at risk for gallstones and other bile duct blockage issues, so try to take steps to lower your cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy weight. Reduce your intake of refined sugar and saturated fats, as both have been associated with the development of gallstones. Adequate fiber intake has also shown to help maintain good bile duct health.
Other factors that have been associated with the development of bile duct blockages are crash diets and parasite infections. Avoiding raw fish, particularly when traveling through foreign countries, can help you to avoid the specific type of parasite that is associated with bile duct infections. Losing weight rapidly, especially when the diet is low in nutrition, can increase your risks for developing gallstones, so losing weight in healthy ways is advised.