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Jaundice

Overview

Jaundice is a condition which causes your skin and the whites of your eyes to turn yellow. It occurs when a patient has too much bilirubin, which is a yellow chemical in haemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen in your blood cells. Patients often develop jaundice in connection with liver disease, an obstruction of the biliary tract or other conditions.

 

Symptoms

The most common symptom of jaundice is a yellowish pigmentation of the skin and the whites of the eyes.

 

Diagnosis

To diagnose you, your doctor will perform a physical examination and some blood tests. Imaging techniques can also be used to aid the diagnosis, such as ultrasound, CT and MRI.

If a patient also has bile duct obstruction, it may be necessary to perform further diagnostic procedures to examine the affected area.

 

Treatment

Treatment depends on the exact underlying cause of the jaundice. If the condition is connected to biliary duct obstruction, several options are available. Surgery may be necessary to relieve the blockage. Imaging techniques may also be used.

Minimally invasive techniques to manage jaundice related to biliary obstruction include percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage, which involves placing a catheter across the narrowed duct and connecting it to an external bag to allow drainage. The interventional radiologist may also place a stent, which keeps the biliary ducts open without the need for a catheter. In some cases, the physician will perform a separate procedure, called percutaneous biliary dilatation, which involves stretching a section of the bile duct with a balloon, to aid insertion of the stent.