Choledochal cysts are abnormal cystic dilatation of the bile duct. It is a congenital condition. It may involve the bile duct outside the liver, inside the liver, or both. Depending on the location and extent of involvement, it can be broadly classified into 5 types, and each of them has its subtypes.
Choledochal cysts can lead to obstruction in bile flow. Symptoms usually occur early in life. Infants may present with jaundice (yellow discoloration of skin and sclera) and enlarged liver. If the symptoms were undetected, damage to the liver will occur, which eventually may lead to cirrhosis of the liver. Adult may present with recurrent episodes of upper abdominal pain, jaundice and cholangitis (bacterial infection of the bile duct). Pancreatitis may also occur. Choledochal cysts also increase the risk of cancer of bile duct.
There is no known way to prevent choledochal cyst.
The exact etiology is not known. It is a developmental abnormality of the bile duct which may be associated with some other congenital anomalies.
The diagnosis of choledochal cyst is usually through imaging such as ultrasound. Other imaging modalities such as CT, MRI or ERCP can further delineate the extent of the disease.
The best way to treat choledochal cyst is complete excision of the cyst. This involve surgical removal of the diseased bile duct, and reconstructing the bile duct by joining the bile duct to the small intestine.