Obstructive jaundice can be dangerous, if not treated at an early stage. The following article provides information about this condition, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and various treatment options available.
The liver plays a very important role in the human body. It produces around one liter of bile everyday, that helps in the digestion of food. The gallbladder serves as a reservoir for bile, which is not used up immediately. When the food enters the small intestine, the gallbladder contracts and releases the bile juice into the small intestine, which helps in the digestion process.
Bile contains a yellow-colored pigment known as bilirubin, which is extracted from the red blood cells. Any obstruction in the flow of bile from the liver causes obstructive jaundice. Due to the blockage, the bile overflows into the blood, and this increases the level of bilirubin in the blood. Since it can also cause various other infections in the body, it is important to treat this condition at the earliest.
Given below are some of the primary causes of jaundice. Any disease related to the liver or gallbladder can be the primary cause of this condition. There are many reasons which can lead to the obstruction of the bile duct, resulting in this type of jaundice. Some of the causes are listed below:
- Pancreatic cancer
- Interstitial liver diseases
- Liver cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Gold salts
- Cystic fibrosis
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- Sclerosing cholangitis
- Hepatic adenoma
- Side effects of drugs and medicines
Due to the increased levels of bilirubin in the blood, the skin and the eyes appear pale yellow in color. Bilirubin also causes dark, yellow-colored urine and pale stools. Some other symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Smelly and bulky stools
- Upper abdominal pain
- Enlarged liver
- Enlarged spleen
- Itching skin
To diagnose this condition, various standard diagnostic techniques are used. These include medical history of the patient, thorough physical examination, and various biochemical tests. Some of the important tests include gastrointestinal X-ray, cholecystography and cholangiography, liver biopsy, liver scan, angiography, transjugular transhepatic cholangiography, etc. These tests help in understanding bilirubin metabolism in the blood, liver function, and other clinical problems. After the condition has been diagnosed, the doctor can start with the appropriate treatment.
The treatment for this type of jaundice depends upon the root cause of the disease. In cases where the obstruction can be removed, a simple laparoscopic surgery is performed. In the surgery, a small incision is made in the skin through which a thin, lighted tube is inserted and the obstruction is removed. For example, if the cause is the presence of gallstones, then gallstones are removed surgically using the aforementioned procedure.
After studying the medical history, if the doctors notice that certain drugs are causing liver inflammation, then those medicines are stopped and replaced with other suitable medicines. Many doctors also suggest the use of antibiotics, that help in the removal of the obstruction and help in smooth functioning of the gallbladder. In severe cases, where the entire liver is damaged, liver transplantation is suggested. Apart from this, a patient needs to follow a special low protein, low fat, and high fiber diet, while undergoing the treatment for jaundice. In this condition, proteins and fats cannot be digested properly, hence their consumption should be avoided. People affected by this condition are advised to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grain carbohydrates.
There are very few risks associated with this condition. Many people may develop vitamin K deficiency, as vitamin K is fat-soluble, and the patient cannot eat fatty food. However, people affected by this condition must keep their calorie levels high, so that they do not lose much weight during the treatment. In case of a liver transplant and surgical treatment, there are chances of general surgical complications such as bleeding; however, the operative mortality rate in obstructive jaundice is very low.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.