Biliary atresia is a blockage in the tubes (ducts) that carry a liquid called bile from the liver to the gallbladder. The condition is congenital, which means it is present from birth.
Biliary atresia occurs when the bile ducts inside or outside the liver do not develop normally. It is not known why the biliary system fails to develop normally.
The bile ducts help remove waste from the liver and carry salts that help the small intestine break down (digest) fat.
In babies with biliary atresia, bile flow from the liver to the gallbladder is blocked. This can lead to liver damage and cirrhosis of the liver, which is deadly if not treated.
A-Kader HH, Balistreri WF. Cholestasis. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 353.
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