This occurs when bile cannot flow from the gallbladder to the duodenum and is instead retained in the bloodstream. This can happen for several reasons, including: gallstones, tumours of the pancreas/bile duct or liver, a reaction to certain drugs (e.g. analgesics), hormonal changes, and alcoholic liver disease.
Symptoms can include jaundice, pale stools and dark urine, abdominal pain, fever, fatigue, pruritus (itching).
Blood tests and imaging (e.g. MRI, CT or Ultrasound) will be used to diagnose and determine the cause of the blockage. Treatment will then be decided upon in relation to the blockage and may include surgery or reduction of the toxins (e.g. alcohol or medication).
Outlook depends on the type of blockage and ongoing medical supervision may be required.