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Treatment / Biliary Drain and Stenting

Biliary interventions treat blockages or narrowing of the passages between the liver, gallbladder and small intestine called bile ducts. If the bile ducts become blocked, it can lead to inflammation or infection. Biliary drainage and stenting are procedures that can treat your condition and restore the flow of fluids.

Am I a Candidate for a Biliary Intervention?

When you come in to be treated, your doctor will talk to you about your medical history and perform diagnostic testing, which may include computed tomography (CT) scanning, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

When the bile ducts are occluded (blocked), bile cannot leave the body and builds up. Most often, patient’s skin will appear jaundice (yellow in color); other symptoms can include itching, nausea and tiredness.

What to Expect from the Drain Procedure

When you come in for your procedure, you will either have local anesthesia with sedation, or general anesthesia – whatever you and your vascular and interventional radiologist (VIR) have discussed. Under image guidance your doctor will pass a thin needle through the skin into the liver and then into a bile duct inside the liver. A contrast agent or dye will be injected to outline the bile ducts and a thin wire is passed through the center of the needle into the bile duct and a drain tube is inserted over the top of the wire.

One end of the drain tube will remain in the bile duct and the other end will stay outside the skin where it will be attached to a drain bag.

What to Expect from the Stent Procedure

During a stent placement procedure a small plastic or metal tube is placed inside a duct to help it remain open or to bypass an obstruction and allow fluids to drain internally.

Under image guidance your doctor will pass a needle through the skin into the liver and then into a bile duct inside the liver. If a blockage is found, a catheter may be temporarily left in the liver to drain bile into the small intestine or a collection bag outside the body. A stent will be placed in a narrow portion of a bile duct to help keep it open, a balloon tipped catheter can also be used to help expand a narrow duct. The stent will remain in place.


Biliary interventions are typically performed as an outpatient procedure and take about an hour. After your treatment, you will rest in a recovery area for a while before being sent home. In most cases, patients can resume normal activities within a few days. Patients may experience some initial discomfort where the tube was inserted through the skin; this is typically managed with simple pain relieving medications.

If you have had a drain placed you will be advised on the care, including how frequently it needs to be emptied.

Whether or not you are a candidate will depend on your diagnosis and consultation with your interventional radiologist. But if you have been diagnosed with a biliary obstruction and are looking for a safe, minimally invasive solution, endovascular procedures may be the answer for you. Call IVC today at 503-612-0498 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

* This information about Biliary Drain and Stenting was reviewed by Dr. Jason R. Bauer. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the form below.

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We are announcing that Interventional and Vascular Consultants will be closing as of March 10, 2023.

We would like to thank you for the trust you have given us over the years, participating in your healthcare needs has been a privilege.

To assist in a smooth transition to a new provider, you may access your records from your MyHealth account or request a copy of medical records by clicking the link below and completing the Release of Information form.

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Please know that we have greatly valued our relationship with you and wish you the best.


Jason Bauer, MD RVT
Michael Pfister, MD RVT

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