What is obstructive jaundice?

Obstructive jaundice is a condition in which there is blockage of the flow of bile out of the liver. This results in redirection of excess bile and its by-products into the blood, and bile excretion from the body is incomplete. Bile contains many by-products, one of which is bilirubin, a pigment derived from dead red blood cells. Bilirubin is yellow, and this gives the characteristic yellow appearance of jaundice in the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. Symptoms of obstructive jaundice include yellow eyes and skin, abdominal pain, and fever.

Any type of obstruction that blocks the flow of bile from the liver can cause obstructive jaundice. Most commonly, gallstones create the blockage. Other causes of obstruction include inflammation, tumors, trauma, pancreatic cancer, narrowing of the bile ducts, and structural abnormalities present at birth.

The signs and symptoms of obstructive jaundice differ depending on the completeness of the blockage, and the disease course varies among individuals. Some people with obstructive jaundice may have no symptoms initially, but if the condition persists, they may have severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Complete blockage may also occur, posing a risk of infection leading to liver and gallbladder damage. 

The goal of the clinical evaluation is to identify the root cause for jaundice. Fortunately, in most cases, obstructive jaundice can be treated with intravenous fluids, antibiotics and, if necessary, surgical removal of the obstruction.

Untreated, obstructive jaundice can lead to serious infection that spreads to other parts of the body. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms such as high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), severe abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, and nausea with or without vomiting.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for obstructive jaundice but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of obstructive jaundice?

Obstructive jaundice can cause many different types of symptoms, which vary in intensity among individuals.

Common symptoms of obstructive jaundice

Obstructive jaundice can cause any of the following symptoms, and at times, any of these symptoms can be severe:

CAUSES

What causes obstructive jaundice?

Obstructive jaundice is a condition in which there is a blockage of the flow of bile out of the liver. This results in redirection of excess bile and its by-products into the blood, and bile excretion from the body is incomplete. Bilirubin, a component of bile, is yellow, which gives the characteristic yellow appearance of jaundice in the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes.

The... Read more about obstructive jaundicecauses

TREATMENTS

How is obstructive jaundice treated?

Your health care professional can develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs. It is important to precisely follow your treatment plan for obstructive jaundice to help minimize your symptoms and decrease the chance of your symptoms recurring over time.

To determine if you have obstructive jaundice, your health care provider may ask you to provide blood samples and undergo diag... Read more about obstructive jaundicetreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System


Did You Know?

View Source

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common disorders diagnosed by doctors. In fact, it's estimated that as many as 20 percent of adults have symptoms of IBS.