Ischemic cholangiopathy is focal damage to the biliary tree due to disrupted flow from the hepatic artery via the peribiliary arterial plexus.
Common causes of ischemic cholangiopathy include
Bile duct injury (ischemic necrosis) results, causing cholestasis, cholangitis, or biliary strictures (often multiple). Ischemic cholangiopathy most commonly occurs in people who have had a liver transplant.
Symptoms (eg, pruritus, dark urine, pale stools) and results of laboratory tests, and imaging studies may indicate cholestasis.
The diagnosis is suspected when cholestasis is evident in patients at risk, particularly after liver transplantation. Ultrasonography is the first-line diagnostic imaging test for cholestasis, but most patients require magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography, ERCP, or both to rule out other causes such as cholelithiasis or cholangiocarcinoma.
Treatment is directed at the cause. After liver transplantation, such treatment includes antirejection therapy and possible retransplantation. Biliary strictures warrant endoscopic balloon dilation and stenting.
Last full review/revision September 2013 by Nicholas T. Orfanidis, MD
Content last modified October 2013