What Is Bile Duct Disease?

When your bile ducts become blocked, your body cannot receive essential bile for proper function. Dr. David Chua, Dr. Rajeev Nayar, and Dr. Albert Saporta of Summit Digestive & Liver Disease Specialists treat this condition in Chicago, IL, known as bile duct disease.


Bile is produced in your liver and contains a mixture of products to aid fat digestion. It stores in your gallbladder before being released into your small intestine after eating. Blockages in these ducts may lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, jaundice (yellowing skin and eyes), and vomiting.


Diagnosing a bile duct condition typically begins with a visit to your family doctor. They will ask about symptoms and perform a physical exam; if there is any suspicious change, they may order tests to identify what's causing it.

If the stone is a gallstone, an endoscope (a thin tube with light and lens for viewing) will pass through your mouth and stomach into the small intestine. When diagnosing bile duct disease in Chicago, IL, our doctors may inject dye to make the ducts visible on X-rays and take a tissue sample for analysis.

Furthermore, our medical team may conduct tests to determine if the bile duct is blocked or contains cancer cells, including testing your blood for bilirubin, which accumulates in the wrong locations when a tumor blocks its passageway. 


Treatment for a bile duct condition aims to address the underlying cause and alleviate symptoms, which may involve surgery or endoscopic procedures. If you have a bile duct obstruction, our doctors can treat it with either surgery or medicine. The type and location of the blockage will determine your treatment plan.

Your treatment may also include pemigatinib, a targeted cancer drug. This drug inhibits proteins that signal cancer cells to grow and divide. Lastly, liver transplantation is a treatment option for those with recurrent bile duct cancer that surgery cannot remove. For most patients, this procedure offers the most promising long-term survival prospects and gives them the best chance at a cure.


Unfortunately, gallstones are the most frequent cause of bile duct blockages. However, maintaining a healthy diet for your gallbladder and avoiding foods high in fats and sugars can significantly lower your chances of developing these stones.

You can also reduce your chances of developing this disease by avoiding certain risk factors like alcohol consumption, hepatitis viruses, and parasites like liver flukes.

Call Summit Digestive & Liver Disease Specialists at (630) 889-9889 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Chua, Dr. Nayar, and Dr. Saporta to test for bile duct disease in Chicago, IL.