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Home Information Medical stuff Information on liver diseases Choledochal cyst

Choledochal cyst

About choledochal cysts

A choledochal cyst is a swelling/widening or dilation of the bile ducts. It usually affects the bile ducts outside the liver, but sometimes it also affects those inside the liver.

The exact cause is unknown but it arises because of a malformation of the bile duct when the baby is developing in early pregnancy.

What are the signs and symptoms of choledochal cysts?

Most choledochal cysts are detected in childhood and some are found before birth during ultrasound scans. Every patient is different, but they may have some or all of the following:

  • Jaundice
  • Intermittent abdominal pain
  • Cholangitis
  • Peritonitis
  • An abdominal swelling

How is a diagnosis of choledochal cysts made?

A choledochal cyst is most often suspected if an abdominal ultrasound scan shows a dilated bile duct in a baby or child with jaundice or severe abdominal pain. Extra tests are carried out to get more information. These may include:

  • A more detailed ultrasound scan
  • MRCP (Magnetic Resonance Cholangio-Pancreatography)
  • ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography)

Treatment options for choledochal cysts

Common types of choledochal cysts should be treated by a surgeon experienced in this kind of operation. The best operation involves the cyst being completely removed, which means removing most of the bile ducts outside the liver, together with the gall bladder.

Want to know more?

Download CLDF’s leaflet on choledochal cysts.

You can also order a copy of the leaflet here.

The information on this site is for guidance only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other health care professional. ALWAYS check with your medical team if you have any concerns about your condition or treatment. CLDF is not responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any form of damages resulting from the use (or misuse) of information contained in or implied by the information on this site.