Cholestasis is any condition in which the flow of bile from the liver is slowed or blocked.
Intrahepatic cholestasis; Extrahepatic cholestasis
There are many causes of cholestasis.
Extrahepatic cholestasis occurs outside the liver. It can be caused by:
Intrahepatic cholestasis occurs inside the liver. It can be caused by:
Certain medicines can also cause cholestasis, including:
Exams and Tests
Blood tests may show that you have too much bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase.
Imaging tests are used to diagnose this condition. Tests include:
The underlying cause of cholestasis must be treated.
How well a person does depends on the disease causing the condition. Stones in the common bile duct can often be removed. This can cure the cholestasis.
Stents can be placed to open areas of the common bile duct that are narrowed or blocked by cancers.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have:
Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B if you are at risk. Do not use intravenous drugs and share needles.
Beuers U, Boberg KM, Chapman RW et al. EASL Clinical Practice Guidelines: Management of cholestatic liver diseases. J Hepatol. 2009 Aug;51(2):237-67.
Zollner G, Trauner M. Mechanisms of cholestasis. Clinics in Liver Disease. 2008;12:1-26.
Afdhal NH. Diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 158.
Review Date: 5/15/2014
Reviewed By: Jenifer K. Lehrer, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, Aria Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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