|Other encyclopedia topics:||A-Ag Ah-Ap Aq-Az B-Bk Bl-Bz C-Cg Ch-Co Cp-Cz D-Di Dj-Dz E-Ep Eq-Ez F G H-Hf Hg-Hz I-In Io-Iz J K L-Ln Lo-Lz M-Mf Mg-Mz N O P-Pl Pm-Pz Q R S-Sh Si-Sp Sq-Sz T-Tn To-Tz U V W X Y Z 0-9|
|Contents of this page:|
Definition Return to top
Biliary atresia is a blockage in the tubes (ducts) that carry a liquid called bile from the liver to the gallbladder. The condition is congenital, which means it is present from birth.
Causes Return to top
Biliary atresia occurs when the bile ducts inside or outside the liver do not develop normally. It is not known why the biliary system fails to develop normally.
The bile ducts help remove waste from the liver and carry salts that help the small intestine break down (digest) fat.
In babies with biliary atresia, bile flow from the liver to the gallbladder is blocked. This can lead to liver damage and cirrhosis of the liver, which is deadly if not treated.
Symptoms Return to top
Newborns with this condition may appear normal at birth. However, jaundice (a yellow color to the skin and mucous membranes) develops by the second or third week of life. The infant may gain weight normally for the first month, but then will lose weight and become irritable, and have worsening jaundice.
Other symptoms may include:
Exams and Tests Return to top
The health care provider will perform a physical exam, which includes feeling the patients belly area. The doctor may feel an enlarged liver.
Tests to diagnose biliary atresia include:
Treatment Return to top
An operation called the Kasai procedure is done to connect the liver to the small intestine, going around the abnormal ducts. It is most successful if done before the baby is 8 weeks old. However, a liver transplant may still be needed.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Early surgery will improve the survival of more than a third of babies with this condition. The long-term benefit of liver transplant is not yet known, but is expected to improve survival.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if your child appears jaundiced, or if other symptoms of biliary atresia develop.Update Date: 10/8/2007 Updated by: Deirdre O’Reilly, MD, MPH, Neonatologist, Division of Newborn Medicine, Children’s Hospital Boston and Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. Review Provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.