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Choledochal Cyst

What is a choledochal cyst?

In this condition, the main trunk (the common bile duct) of the biliary tree is structurally abnormal, probably from the time of birth. Usually by the age of 2 or 3 years the bile begins to collect in the duct. It forms a sack or cyst which then presses on the bile duct and may prevent bile from reaching the intestine. Bile can back up into the liver and the patient becomes jaundiced (yellow). Occasionally the accumulation of bile becomes infected causing abdominal pain and fever.

How is choledochal cyst diagnosed?

The classic symptoms of abdominal mass, pain and jaundice is rarely seen during childhood. Some children may not show symptoms for years. In some patients, the cyst can be felt by the doctor examining the abdomen. Blood studies such as a serum amylase and liver function tests may be drawn during acute episodes of pain. In most patients the diagnosis can be confirmed by using Ultrasound pictures or by injecting a radioactive substance and performing a CT scan which gives an "image" of the abnormal duct.

How is choledochal cyst treated?

The abnormal bile duct is removed and a piece of intestine is used to replace it. In most cases, surgery permanently corrects the disease. Rarely, infection may occur in the newly formed bile duct. If the choledochal cyst is not correctly diagnosed, blockage of bile may result in scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). If left untreated, choledochal cysts may develop into cancer.

Learn More

For additional information on choledochal cyst visit the APSA Family and Parent Resource Center's page on choledochal cyst here »

Contact Us

University of Texas Health Science Center Professional Building
Department of Pediatric Surgery

6410 Fannin Street, Suite 950
Houston, Texas 77030

Phone: (832) 325-7234

Office Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday-Friday except major holidays)

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This information, although based on a thorough knowledge and careful review of current medical literature, is the opinion of doctors at The University of Texas Medical School and is presented to inform you about surgical conditions. It is not meant to contradict any information you may receive from your personal physician and should not be used to make decisions about surgical treatment. If you have any questions about the information above or your child's care, please contact our doctors.