Obstructive Jaundice – Causes, Symptoms & Treatments


Obstructive jaundice is not a disease but a symptom of underlying liver conditions​ that block the flow of bile out of the liver. This results in redirection of excess bile and its by-products into the blood. Bilirubin, one of the many by-products of bile, is a pigment derived from dead red blood cells. It is yellow in color and that gives characteristic yellow appearance of jaundice in skin, eyes and mucous membrane.

Like said any type of obstruction of bile flow from the live can cause obstructive jaundice. Most commonly gall stones create the blockage. There are other causes of obstruction as well such as inflammation, trauma, pancreatic cancer, narrowing of the bile ducts or structural abnormalities by birth.

The signs and symptoms also depend on the completeness of the blockage and hence diagnosis and treatment of obstructive jaundice also vary from person to person, depending on the conditions. In this blog we will learn more about obstructive jaundice in terms of causes, symptoms and treatment options.

Symptoms of obstructive jaundice

Obstructive jaundice can cause any of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark colored urine
  • Fever and chills
  • Itchy skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Malaise
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Yellow coloration of skin and eyes (jaundice)

There are some very serious symptoms where you should seek immediate medical care. Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal swelling, bloating
  • High fever
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Severe abdominal pain

Causes of Obstructive Jaundice

The most common cause of obstructive jaundice is the presence of gallstones (cholelithiasis). Other factors that block the normal flow of the bile from the liver includes:

  • Narrowing of bile duct
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Infection or inflammation of the common bile duct
  • Cysts of the bile duct
  • Pancreatitis
  • Trauma, including surgical complications
  • Parasitic infection

Obstructive jaundice treatment

Your gastroenterologist can develop a treatment plan tailored to your health conditions and diagnosed cause of the obstructive jaundice treatment. You may be ordered several blood tests and other diagnostic tests.

Treating obstructive jaundice is basically treating the exact cause of jaundice and it depends on the severity of the disease. Examples include:

  • Antibiotic therapy (if indicated for infection)
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) – to treat bile duct problems
  • Nutritional support
  • Intravenous fluids and pain medications
  • Surgery to create alternative pathway for the proper flow of the bile
  • Treatment of cancer
  • Liver transplant (if all methods are unsuccessful)

Further there are some potential complications of obstructive jaundice, that includes:

  • Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
  • Digestive problems
  • Liver failure
  • Spread of infection
  • Coagulopathy (a blood clotting disorder)

Dr. Bhavesh Thakkar – Gastroenterologist in Ahmedabad is sharing his views on obstructive jaundice with more details on evaluating the conditions and treating them. Watch the video:

Wrapping up…

The goal of the clinical evaluation is to identify the root cause for jaundice. To prevent jaundice resulting from gallstone disease, eat a healthy, balanced diet and reduce your intake of fatty foods and alcohol.

Need consulting or treatment for obstructive jaundice in Ahmedabad, call us or drop us a message.

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