What is cholangitis?
Cholangitis is an inflammation of the bile duct system that is usually related to a bacterial infection. The bile duct system is the drainage system that carries bile from the liver and gallbladder into the area of the small intestine called the duodenum. The infection may occur suddenly or may be chronic.
What causes cholangitis?
There are several conditions that may trigger an infection in the bile duct system. The primary cause of cholangitis is an obstruction or blockage somewhere in the bile duct system. The blockage may be from stones, a tumor, blood clots, a narrowing that may occur after a surgical procedure, swelling of the pancreas, or from parasite invasion. Other causes include a backflow of bacteria from the small intestine, a blood infection (bacteriemia), or following a diagnostic procedure such as an endoscopic examination. The infection causes pressure to build-up in the bile duct system.