What Is Cholangitis?

By james
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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Bile is a yellow or green fluid that is produced by the liver to aid in digestion, particularly breaking down the fats that you consume. The gallbladder stores bile until it is needed, at which point it travels to the small intestine.

There are a series of small tubes called ducts by which the bile travels from one organ to another. This is called the bile duct system. Blockage or narrowing of a duct can cause bile to back up into the liver and provide an environment for bacteria to grow. The resulting inflammation is known as cholangitis.

1. Types

Cholangitis is a relatively rare condition, affecting about 200,000 people in the United States every year. It can be either acute, meaning that it occurs suddenly, or chronic, meaning that it produces symptoms over a long period of time, ranging from five to 20 years.

There are many different types of cholangitis, which means that the causes, symptoms, and treatment options can vary greatly. There may, in fact, be overlap between the different types, which include immune cholangitis, secondary cholangitis, primary biliary cholangitis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). A chronic condition like PSC may cause acute or subacute symptoms.


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