Bile Duct Injury
Bile Duct Injury Leading to Pancreatitis

Bile Duct Injury Leading to Pancreatitis

While performing a gallbladder removal, it is possible that the surgeon perforates the patient's bile duct. This will lead to serious complications, one of which is acute pancreatitis. If this has happened to you or a member of your family, we can help you now.

Bile duct injury during gallbladder removal

Bile is a liquid produced by the liver which used to aid digestion. It leaves the liver via the bile duct, a series of long narrow tubes which carry bile into the stomach and small intestine.

Bile is also fed into the gallbladder, a small pouch underneath the liver which acts as a reservoir, temporarily holding bile until it is required by the small intestine for digestion. However, sometimes the chemicals that make up bile become out of balance, causing small hard stones to form. These are known as gallstones and are a common problem, particularly in people over the age of 40.

Often gallstones will not cause any problems whatsoever, in which case the patient will not require medical intervention. But some will experience severe abdominal pain which lasts for around 60 to 90 minutes. In such cases, a patient will be advised to undergo a cholecystectomy, the medical term for gallbladder removal.

Surgical removal of the gallbladder is a frequently performed operation, and the NHS carry out some 60,000 cholecystectomies every year. However, there are risks involved, one of which is the possibility that the surgeon will perforate the bile duct. Indeed, the gallbladder is attached to the common bile duct, so the surgeon must be sure to seal this tube with clips before proceeding with the operation. He or she must also take great care to ensure that the gallbladder is not damaged.

Complications of a bile duct injury

But unfortunately there are occasions when the surgeon does not take sufficient care when removing the gallbladder, accidentally perforating the bile duct. This will happen in around one in 500 cholecystectomy operations, and will lead to a series of complications for the patient concerned.

The leakage of bile will cause a severe infection in the abdominal cavity, impair liver function and can also damage the pancreas. Pancreatic problems will be compounded by medical professionals performing ERCPs, a procedure which allows them to assess the bile duct and pancreatic duct by inserting a small camera into the patient. This can, however, lead to acute pancreatitis with necrosis of the pancreas.

Claiming for medical negligence

If you have suffered complications such as pancreatitis because your bile duct was injured during gallbladder removal, you could be considered the victim of medical negligence. This means that your surgeon did not display the skill and expertise expected of a competent medical professional, causing you injury. You will therefore be entitled to compensation for the damage this caused.

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