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 an overflow of 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.

Digestive Problems Spotlight

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. Fortunately, in most cases, obstructive jaundice can be treated with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and 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.... Read more about obstructive jaundicesymptoms

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 an overflow of 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.... 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.... Read more about obstructive jaundicetreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 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


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