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.

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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.

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If you have any questions, use the online tool below to help us connect with you. To refer a patient or schedule an appointment, please contact our clinic using the information below.

  • UT Physicians Pediatric Specialists 
    Texas Medical Center

    6410 Fannin St., Suite 500
    Houston, Texas 77030
    Phone: (832) 325-6516
  • UT Physicians Pediatric Surgery
    Texas Medical Center

    6410 Fannin St., Suite 950
    Houston, Texas 77030
    Phone: (832) 325-7234

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