Biliary and Pancreatic Care
Biliary and Pancreatic Care
Our multidisciplinary Biliary and Pancreas Group (BPG) treats common and complex disorders of the pancreas and related organs. The pancreas, bile duct and gallbladder all play important roles in delivering enzymes to the digestive tract to help our bodies digest food. When these organs become infected or diseased, patients can suffer symptoms including:
- Abdominal pain
- Unintentional weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellow eyes) and dark urine
- Itchy skin, or pruritus
Disorders We Treat
Bile duct and gallbladder disorders
- Stones in the bile duct (choledocholithiasis) or gallbladder (cholelithiasis)
- Infection of the bile duct (cholangitis)
- Cancer of the bile duct or gallbladder
- Indeterminate biliary stricture, a narrowing or obstruction of the bile duct
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), scars caused by inflammation of the bile duct that could lead to liver damage
- Cyst in the bile duct (choledochocele)
- Bile duct muscle dysfunction (Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction), causing abdominal pain
- Biliary dyskinesia, a condition in which the gallbladder can’t release bile into the small intestine
- Inflammation of the pancreas (acute or chronic pancreatitis)
- Pancreatic necrosis, a serious infection related to acute pancreatitis
- Cyst, mass, or tumor in the pancreas or in the ampulla of Vater, an area where the bile duct and pancreatic duct join
Diagnostic Tests and Treatments
The Augusta University Digestive Health Center has the region’s only comprehensive care center for disorders of the pancreas and related organs. Our multidisciplinary team collaborates to correctly diagnose and determine the best treatment plan for you.
Step One: Diagnosis
If we suspect you have pancreas disease, we test for abnormal levels of CA 19-9, blood amylase, blood lipase, blood trypsin, fecal elastase, and fecal fat.
If we suspect bile duct disease, we test for abnormal levels of CEA, p-ANCA, blood alkaline phosphatase, blood transaminases (AST/ALT), and blood bilirubin.
Imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasonography, and magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP), as well as endoscopy and other scans, may also be used to look for abnormalities in the bile ducts such as dilated bile duct or bile duct strictures, gallbladder, ampulla, or pancreas, such as cyst, tumor, dilated pancreatic duct, or pancreatic duct stricture.
Step Two: Treatment
Because pancreas and bile duct disorders can be quite complex, you can rest assured knowing that at Augusta University Digestive Health Center, you have an entire multidisciplinary team taking care of every detail of your treatment.
Our gastrointestinal specialists collaborate with endocrinologists, interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists and oncologists, minimally invasive surgeons, cystic fibrosis specialists (since chronic pancreatitis is a risk for CF patients), and psychiatrists to oversee every aspect of your care.
Specific treatments may include:
- Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC), which uses a contrast material to get a detailed image of the bile ducts. During this procedure, interventional radiologists may also perform other procedures such as draining excess bile, removing gallstones, or placing stents
- Percutaneous biliary drainage (PBD) and management, which places a new drain into the bile duct to reestablish proper bile drainage into the digestive tract
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a diagnostic test that combines endoscopy and X-ray to examine the bile duct, pancreas, and gallbladder. During this procedure, gastroenterologists may also place stents, dilate strictures (narrowed areas), fracture and remove gallstones (lithotripsy), and obtain samples of tumors and manage tumors
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) for cyst evaluation and drainage, cancer staging and management, and evaluation and fine needle aspiration of masses and/or lymph nodes
Step Three: Supportive Care
The Augusta University Digestive Health Center offers many other supportive resources to help improve patients’ quality of life.
Patients benefit from patient education by our nurse practitioner and physicians, genetic counseling for hereditary conditions that could cause pancreas or bile duct disorders, nutritional resources specifically designed for biliary and pancreatic patients, and pain management. Plus, as part of an academic medical center, you always have access to 24/7 emergency care.