Sheriff Sarah

Sheriff Sarah

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Complications of Biliary Atresia

Digressing for a moment, let's look at why biliary atresia can be such a pain - and ultimately lead to where we are today: on the brink of a transplant. We have experienced several of these leading to our multiple hospital visits but none as scary as the varices.

Cholangitis - An inflammation of the bile ducts caused by bacteria moving up from the bowel. This is a common problem after the Kasai procedure, because bacteria are present in the loop of the intestine used to drain the bile. Symptoms include irritability, fever, increased jaundice and poor appetite. Medical treatment should be sought immediately to treat the infection and prevent further liver damage. Cholangitis is treated with IV antibiotics in hospital.

Failure to Thrive - Lack of bile salts in the intestine, which are needed for fat digestion, result in poor growth and fat-soluble vitamin deficiency. Vitamins A, D, E and K can be given orally to prevent deficiencies of these vitamins. Special infant formulas are usually needed to help with growth.

Cirrhosis - is when scarring to the liver occurs causing irreversible damage. Once cirrhosis develops the functions of the liver start to be interrupted and liver transplantation is considered.
Portal Hypertension - As the liver becomes scarred, veins travelling through the liver become constricted. This impairs the flow of blood and increases the pressure in these veins, specifically in the portal vein (a major vein of the liver system) leading to a big spleen and fluid problems (such as ascites).

Ascites - Ascites is a complication of portal hypertension. This occurs when there is a build up of fluid in the space between the lining of the abdominal wall and the lining of the organs.

Varices - Another complication of portal hypertension is varices. Varices occur when the increased pressure causes blood to flow through smaller veins, which leads them to weaken and swell. Varices can lead to bleeding. This bleeding can cause dark or black-coloured stools and blood-stained vomit. Immediate medical attention is necessary.


  1. There is so much to take in. We are all so lucky to have your family in our lives. In this time of need, you are so selfless, your teaching us right along with you. You are amazing people and your strenght is astonishing. Remember, you are loved.


  2. Ditto what Sheri said!!!!

    You all are an inspiration to us all.

    Debbie V.