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NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center - Center for Advanced Digestive Care

Obstructive Jaundice

Jaundice is a yellow color of the skin, mucus membranes, or eyes. The yellow coloring comes from bilirubin, a byproduct of old red blood cells. Jaundice can be a symptom of other health problems, including:

  • Ampullary cancer
  • Cholangitis (infection of the bile duct)
  • Bile duct cancer
  • Biliary stricture (an abnormal narrowing of the bile duct)
  • Biliary stones (choledocholithiasis, the presence of a gallstone in the common bile duct)
  • Biliary changes after liver transplant (such as bile leaks)
  • Gallstones
  • Pancreatic duct obstructions
  • Pancreatitis

In the case obstructive jaundice, the symptoms develop because of a narrowed or blocked bile duct or pancreatic duct, preventing the normal drainage of bile.

Specialists at the Center for Advanced Digestive Care (CADC) at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center are experienced in diagnosing and treating the causes of obstructive jaundice. They use a multidisciplinary approach and tailor treatment to the needs of each patient.

What Causes Jaundice?

The following tests may be performed by the CADC's Advanced Interventional Endoscopy Team to diagnose the cause of jaundice:

  • Imaging tests such as CT scanning and magnetic resonance imaging
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
  • Choledochoscopy
  • Probe-based confocal endomicroscopy
  • Narrow band imaging of the bile duct

To learn more about these procedures, visit the Advanced Interventional Endoscopy page.

Treatment of Obstructive Jaundice

The treatment of obstructive jaundice depends on its cause. Clogged or narrowed bile or pancreatic ducts may be relieved by inserting a stent using ERCP. The CADC's interventional endoscopy specialists are experts in performing ERCP, EUS, EUS-guided ERCP, and other EUS-guided procedures.

Bile duct cancer can be treated with photodynamic therapy (PDT) or radiofrequency ablation (RFA) before placing a stent, while pancreatic cancer can be treated by RFA and stenting. Cancers may require more extensive surgery; some patients receive chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

How can I make an appointment to see an advanced endoscopist?

At the CADC, specialists in gastrointestinal endoscopy, radiology, and surgery work together as an interdisciplinary team to provide each patient with coordinated, advanced, and individualized care. Please contact our Advanced Interventional Endoscopy team to discuss your case.