Biliary atresia: symptoms and treatment

Biliary atresia the liver is a chronic and progressive disease. It becomes evident soon after birth.

The liver is an organ that contains in its interior one known tubes under the name of bile ducts. The function of these structures is to drain a liquid from the liver called bile. The filtrate passes to the intestines and to the kidneys.

Bile It is essential to perform a correct digestion and it transports waste substances from the liver to the intestine and to the kidneys to eliminate them.

A person suffering from biliary atresia have these bile ducts clogged, so bile can not leave the liver. In this way, this organ is damaged, affecting numerous vital bodily functions.

On the other hand, mention that biliary atresia is the most common cause of liver transplantation in children living in the US. It occurs once every 18,000 births and is more common in women than in men. In addition, Asian, African-American, and premature babies often suffer from this disease more frequently compared to Caucasian babies.

Causes of biliary atresia

Today still the responsible causes of the development of this disease are not known. Some researchers believe that babies are born with the disease, so the disease could be triggered during pregnancy, when the liver is in development.

Other experts believe that the disease appears after birth, possibly due to exposure to toxic or infectious substances.

Initially it is believed that biliary atresia is not associated with medications taken by the mother, diseases that have had, or anything that the mother has done during pregnancy.

At present it is also unknown if there is a genetic relationship In the development of the disease, in addition, it is unlikely that the disease is repeated more than once in a family.

What are the symptoms?

Newborns with this condition They may look normal at birth, however, jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes) occurs by the second or third week of life.

The baby can gain weight normally during the first month. After that time, you will lose weight, become more irritable and have worsening of jaundice. In addition to this, you may also develop other symptoms such as:

  • Slow growth
  • Pale or clay-colored stools
  • Dark urine.
  • Little or no weight gain.
  • Splenomegaly (enlargement of the spleen).

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Treatment of biliary atresia

The therapeutic management of biliary atresia is very controversial, since the 80-855 of those who suffer from the disease will end up undergoing a transplant.

Also, as we have already mentioned, it is an irreversible disease and there are no medications that can unblock the bile ducts or encourage the development of new bile ducts. Nowadays, the portoenterostomy of Kasai is considered as the first line of treatment.

However, as we mentioned, it is controversial, since Many experts defend the advantages of this intervention as the first line in front of others who defend transplantation as the first option.

Kasai's Portoenterestomy

This operation aims to connect the drainage of bile of the liver directly in the intestinal tract. Kasai's portoenterestomy is more effective if it is done before the child is 3 months old.

Further, helps the child grow and have relatively good health for many years. However, it is important to take into account that cholestasis may appear, which is an accumulation of bile in the liver and can cause liver damage.

Read also: Heart transplant what is it?

Liver transplant

As the name suggests, this surgery involves transplanting a liver for another healthy. This new organ may come from a deceased donor, from the part of a deceased donor's liver or part of a liver from a relative or another person whose type of tissue is compatible with the patient's tissue type.

After surgery, the child's health usually improves quickly, although it will need drugs to prevent the body from rejecting the new organ. This rejection is a normal protective mechanism of the body that tries to defend against viruses, tumors and other foreign substances.