Bile duct stones are gallstones in the bile duct. They can start in the gallbladder and migrate into the bile duct or they can form in the bile duct itself. The stones can become lodged in the bile duct, causing a blockage.
Gallstones and bile duct stones (also known as choledocholithiasis) are the same, just located in two different areas of the body. Stones may pass spontaneously out of the bile duct on their own. However, when a stone gets stuck in the bile duct, medical intervention is necessary, otherwise inflammation, bacterial infection, and even severe organ damage can occur.
Bile duct stones are typically removed using endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), a minimally invasive procedure that combines x-ray and upper endoscopy exam of the upper gastrointestinal tract, consisting of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) using an endoscope, which is a lighted, flexible tube, about the thickness of a finger. Doctor Badenhorst passes the tube through the mouth and into the duodenum, then injects a contrast dye into the bile ducts, which can then be seen on x-ray. Special tools can be guided through the endoscope to remove the stones.