Diagnosis & Treatments for Biliary Atresia
Diagnosis of Biliary Atresia
Your child’s pediatrician will begin checking for biliary atresia by completing a physical exam. They will ask questions about your child’s personal and family medical history. From there, they may order one or more of the following tests to confirm biliary atresia:
- Blood test. The doctor may check a sample of your child’s blood for bilirubin (an orange-yellow pigment) and signs of liver disease.
- Ultrasound. This imaging test uses sound waves to create detailed images of your child’s liver.
If biliary atresia is suspected, certain specialists may be involved, including gastroenterology and pediatric surgery. These teams may then perform one or both of the following more invasive tests:
- Liver biopsy. The doctor may remove a small amount of tissue from your child’s liver (a biopsy) to check for signs of disease or damage
- Cholangiogram. This test is typically done in the operating room by the surgeon by injecting dye into the bile ducts.
Treatments for Biliary Atresia
If your child has biliary atresia, the first treatment step is usually a surgery known as the Kasai procedure. During this procedure, your child’s surgeon removes their damaged bile ducts and replaces them with a loop of your child’s own small intestine. Sometimes, this procedure is enough to treat biliary atresia. In other cases, children with the condition will eventually need a liver transplant. During a liver transplant, the surgeon removes your child’s diseased liver and replaces it with a healthy donor liver.
Your child may need to make certain dietary adjustments prior to having the Kasai procedure or in the months following, including:
- Eating a special formula, or adding supplements to pumped breast milk (for infants)
- Having a feeding tube or intravenous (IV) nutrition supplement
- Having a special eating plan
- Taking special supplements