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What is a percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram?

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An x-ray of the bile ducts is known as a percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. If there is a block in the bile ducts, this X-ray may be performed to help diagnose the cause. This test is performed by a radiologist in a radiology department.

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The percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram is performed with a long, thin, flexible needle. The patient lies down while the needle is inserted into the liver, describes the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The contrast medium is injected into the bile duct and observed via a video screen. The movement is monitored as the dye passes into the small intestines. The patient may be sedated for this procedure.

This X-ray allows the bile ducts to be mapped, and treatment to be planned. A thin tube or stent may be inserted, allowing the body to rid itself of the bile, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Bile ducts are tubes that carry bile into the gallbladder and small intestine from the liver. Bile is a liquid containing salts, cholesterol and waste. Blockages in the bile duct may cause jaundice or itchy skin. They may result in liver, gallbladder or pancreas infections.

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