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

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 narrowing or blockage of the bile ducts or pancreatic ducts, preventing them from draining bile normally.

Stones in the ducts, such as this intrahepatic stone, can cause jaundice

How is the cause of jaundice diagnosed?

The following diagnostic tests may be performed by our 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

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

What treatments are available?

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

Cancer of the bile duct can be treated with photodynamic therapy (PDT) or radiofrequency ablation (RFA) before placing a stent, while cancer of the pancreas 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?

Our specialists are experienced in assessing and treating obstructive jaundice. An interdisciplinary team of gastrointestinal specialists in endoscopy, radiology, and surgery work together as a team to provide each patient with coordinated, advanced, and individualized care. Please contact our Advanced Interventional Endoscopy team to discuss your case.