cholangitis

Inflammation of the bile ducts, which carry bile from the liver to the gall bladder and thence to the duodenum. Such inflammation is always the result of a temporary and partial blockage of the bile duct, by a gallstone, a (tissue) stricture or a tumour, and results in attacks of pain (colic) and fever with cold shivers. Restriction of bile flow causes jaundice, through accumulation of bilirubin in the body; excess acid gall salts cause itching. Long-term blockage of the bile ducts can lead to liver complications, particularly cirrhosis of the liver, and life-threatening blood poisoning can also occur. Treatment is by surgery to remove the obstruction.

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