Obstructive Jaundice Cause, Symptoms & Treatment

Obstructive Jaundice: cause, symptoms & treatment

Obstructive jaundice is a sub-part of Jaundice. Jaundice is a disease in which the eyes, skin & other tissues become yellowish in color. 

This happens because in the body the circulation of bilirubin is in excess. 

There are many causes of Obstructive Jaundice that include drug reactions, liver disease, bile duct stones, cancer, and alcoholism. 

When there is a large amount of excretion in bilirubin then the pathological process of metabolism interferes with normal functioning. 

As a result jaundice occurs. Depending upon which part of the physical mechanism is affected by pathology, it is classified into 3 main categories:

            Category                               Definition
  • Pre – hepatic or hemolytic                Pathology occurs prior to the liver
  • Hepatic or hepatocellular                  Pathology occurs within the liver
  • Post: Hepatic or cholestatic              Pathology occurs in the liver                                                                                 after the conjugation of bilirubin
Obstructive jaundice may be a condition during which the flow of the bile beginning of the liver is blocked.


As a result, there is an overflow of the bile and its byproduct into the hemoglobin. Thus there is incomplete excretion of bile from the body. Many of the byproducts are contained in bile. 1 of them is bilirubin.


It is a pigment and is derived from dead RBCs. It is yellow in color and thus gives the characteristic yellow appearance of jaundice in the skin of the body.

Obstructive jaundice can be caused by any type of obstruction that blocks the bile flow from the liver. This obstruction is created by gallstones. It is the most common blockage. 

There are many other causes of blockage that include tumors, inflammation, trauma, narrowing of the bile ducts, and pancreatic cancer. There can also be other structural abnormalities that may be present since the birth of the child.

Article at a glance:

  • Symptoms
  • Causes
  • Treatments
  • Potential complications


  • Yellowed Skin
  • Dark Urine
  • Pruritis
  • Pale Stool
Let us discuss these symptoms in detail.

1. Skin Becomes Yellow:

Yellowing of the skin is the most apparent symptom of obstructive jaundice that is visible. The bile, as it overflows into the bloodstream, infuses the eyes, skin tissues, and mucus membranes. 

The skin & the eyes thus acquire a yellow color. During the first few days of life, it is often seen in newborns.

2. Urine is Dark

Urine’s dark yellow color is another symptom of obstructive jaundice that is quite common. It is because as the bile comes out through the bloodstream, by the kidneys the bile is eventually processed. And then as urobilinogen, it is flushed out through the urinary tract out of the body.

3. Pruritis:

Pruritis is what we call systemic itching. Because of obstructive jaundice, systemic itching may occur. Bile contains the salt compound and it is responsible for itching.

It is collected in the dermis. There are some medications available in the market that helps prevent itching. 

These are Actigall & Cholestyramine. In order to get relief from this condition, in severe cases, a bleary diversion[1] may be necessary.

4. Pale Color Stool

Those people who are suffering from this jaundice typically have pale color stools. The reason for this is that the amount of bile that is present in the solid waste is very less that is processed by the digestive system of the body.

Causes of jaundice:

It is caused the normal flow of bile is blocked from the liver into the intestines. It includes:
  • Bile duct becomes narrow (Bile Duct Stricture)
  • Cancer of the pancreas & gallbladder
  • Congenital structural defects
  • Cholelithiasis – These are the gallstones
  • Sac of the bile duct
  • Enlargement  of lymph node
  • Cholangitis – It is inflammation of the common bile duct
  • Pancreatitis
  • Trauma
  • Parasitic infection


Obstructive jaundice can be treated depending upon the actual cause of jaundice. It also depends on disease severity. 

Some of the examples of such treatments include:
  • Antibiotic therapy – Used if the infection is indicated
  • Pain medications & intravenous fluids
  • Supplementary nutritional support.
  • Surgeries are also used to repair the defects of anatomy. For the flow of bile, it can also create alternative pathways.
  • If the liver is damaged totally then we use transplantation of the liver through an operation.
  • If cancer is present then for the treatment for cancer may include surgery like radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
  • If obstructive jaundice is because of the gall stones then ERCP, abbreviated as Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio Pancreatography, is used. ERCP is an imaging technique that is used for the treatment of bile duct problems. It also removes the gallstones present in the gall bladder in case of obstructive jaundice.

Obstructive Jaundice Cause, Symptoms & Treatment Obstructive Jaundice Cause, Symptoms & Treatment Reviewed by Muhammad Akram on June 18, 2020 Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.