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Pediatric Choledochal Cysts

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Summary

The bile normally made by the liver, to assist with the digestion of fatty foods, drains through small tube of bile ducts past the gallbladder into the intestine.  These bile ducts are normally quite thin (3 mm across).  A bile duct that is found to be much larger than normal (i.e., 30mm) or abnormally shaped may be a choledochal cyst (“choledochus” is Latin for bile duct). 

A grossly enlarged or misshapen choledochal cyst can create problems:

  • it can drain poorly causing inflammation in the liver with permanent damage
  • it may cause pain when it fills with bile
  • it may collect infected bile
  • it has a higher likelihood of developing bile duct cancer later in life

Treatment

Once a choledochal cyst is identified, an operation is required to remove it. It is then replaced with intestine so that bile can still drain from the liver into the intestine.

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