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Biliary atresia

Specialization: Surgery

Biliary atresia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Biliary atresia is a pathology occurring in newborns. It blocks bile releasing from the liver, preventing it from flowing into the small intestine. Bile remains in the liver, accumulating there and causing damage to the organ. With prolonged bile stagnation, an inflammatory process begins in bile ducts, spreading to the liver and destroying it.

In infants suffering from pathology, the bile duct becomes damaged by scarring. It doesn’t allow bile to enter the small intestine cavity and perform its function (dietary fiber breakdown and absorption).Pathology develops only in newborns.

Biliary atresia causes

In gastroenterology, a pathology development cause is unknown. Mostly, this disease is congenital, and is accompanied by several defects. Atresia is often associated with viral infections complicating biliary tract.

Nevertheless, biliary atresia poop isn’t inherited. Additionally, mother’s behavior also doesn’t affect defect formation. Generally, following accelerants of biliary atresia development are distinguished:

  • viral infection;
  • chemicals and radiation exposure, in particular environmental pollution;
  • congenital immune system problems – swelling and scarring;
  • gene mutations.

Biliary atresia symptoms

Pathology usually begins manifesting itself at 2-6 weeks of child’s life. Baby’s skin becomes yellowish; the eyes whites also turn yellow. Simultaneously, probing the liver, it seems the organ became more solid. Abdomen is often bloated. Blood tests sometimes show excessive bilirubin – a natural agent released if red blood cell walls are ruptured. Other biliary atresia symptoms:

  • light beige stools with normal yellow, brown and green;
  • urine becomes brown;
  • baby is gaining weight with difficulty;
  • there’s fluid accumulation in abdominal cavity.

Biliary atresia diagnosis and treatment

With general medical tests, the following is required.

  1. Blood tests can determine bilirubin content and detect the liver harm presence.
  2. Ultrasound – assessment of the state of body components.
  3. Liver tissue biopsy.
  4. Hepatobiliary analysis – scanning with indicator introduction into the blood circulation. In a healthy body condition, indicator should be excreted by the liver.
  5. Cholangiography – a dye is added to gallbladder showing the bile duct presence or absence.

It’s impossible to eliminate biliary atresia by clinical methods. Only way of biliary atresia treatment is Kasai surgical technique. Doctor removes defective bile duct, displacing it with the small intestine. If operation failure or the affected ducts location inside the organ, the only solution is liver transplantation.

Can a baby survive biliary atresia?

Without surgical intervention, survival chances are extremely small –  a child lives up to two years. Biliary atresia surgery raises chances up to 80%, in some cases even without organ transplant. However, later in life, patient may need a transplant – it’s unpredictable.