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Papers of the Week

2021 Jul 08

Br J Radiol

Modern imaging of cholangitis.


Pötter-Lang S, Ba-Ssalamah A, Bastati N, Messner A, Kristic A, Ambros R, Herold A, Hodge J, Trauner M
Br J Radiol. 2021 Jul 08:20210417.
PMID: 34233488.


Cholangitis refers to inflammation of the bile ducts with or without accompanying infection. When intermittent or persistent inflammation lasts six months or more, the condition is classified as chronic cholangitis. Otherwise, it is considered an acute cholangitis. Cholangitis can also be classified according to the inciting agent, complete mechanical obstruction, which is the leading cause of acute cholangitis, longstanding partial mechanical blockage, or immune-mediated bile duct obliteration damage that results in chronic cholangitis.The work-up for cholangitis is based upon medical history, clinical presentation, and initial laboratory tests. Whereas ultrasound is the first-line imaging modality used to identify bile duct dilatation in patients with colicky abdominal pain, cross-sectional imaging is preferable when symptoms cannot be primarily localized to the hepatobiliary system. Computed tomography (CT) is very useful in oncologic, trauma, or postoperative patients. Otherwise, magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is the method of choice to diagnose acute and chronic biliary disorders, providing an excellent anatomic overview and, if gadoxetic acid is injected, simultaneously delivering morphological and functional information about the hepatobiliary system. If brush cytology, biopsy, assessment of the prepapillary common bile duct (CBD), stricture dilatation, or stenting is necessary, then endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) and/or retrograde cholangiography (ERC) are performed. Finally, when the pathologic duct is inaccessible from the duodenum or stomach, percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC) is an option. The pace of the work-up depends upon the severity of cholestasis on presentation. Whereas sepsis, hypotension, and/or Charcot's triad warrant immediate investigation and management, chronic cholestasis can be electively evaluated.This overview article will cover the common cholangitides, emphasizing our clinical experience with the chronic cholestatic liver diseases.