Bile Duct Cancer Surgery

Bile ducts play an important role in your body’s digestion, carrying bile—the fluid made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder—to the intestine.

While tumors in bile ducts are both rare and difficult to diagnose, Mount Sinai surgeons have the experience to treat these conditions effectively using a variety of procedures.

About Bile Duct Cancer

Bile ducts, a system of tube-like structures, carry bile, a fluid produced by the liver that is essential to your body’s digestion and absorption of fats that you consume. Bile moves through bile ducts from the liver to the gallbladder where it is stored until your body needs it. Your gallbladder moves the bile through your pancreas, and then it releases into the small intestine where digestion takes place.

Due to this system made up of various organs that perform specific functions, and depending on where the tumor is treatment for bile duct cancer may involve various types of surgical procedures. Since the biliary tree extends into the liver and the pancreas, operations to remove a bile duct cancer may require removing parts of these other organs as well.

As one of the leading referral centers for bile duct issues in New York City, Mount Sinai has expertise with liver and bile duct cancer. Our highly specialized surgeons collaborate closely with renowned gastroenterologists using advanced techniques to visualize and biopsy the organs where bile travels, using the latest advances in imaging to accurately stage bile duct cancer and create a customized treatment plan for you.

Procedures we perform

At Mount Sinai, our surgeons have extensive experience in all aspects of the surgical treatment of bile duct cancer, including:

  • Biliary bypass—the bile duct is attached to another area of the small intestine, creating a new path around the blockage created when tumors cannot be surgically removed
  • Combined liver and bile duct resection—removes bile duct tumors at the point  where they enter the liver; known as hilar cholangiocarcinoma or Klatskin's tumor
  • Liver resection—removes part of the liver where bile duct tumors have occurred inside the liver; known as intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma
  • Whipple procedure—removes bile ducts and the head of the pancreas where lower bile duct tumors extend into the pancreas; also known as pancreaticoduodenectomy

Expertise in bile duct injuries

Our surgeons are also expert in treating non-cancer related injuries to the bile duct. When the bile duct is injured, we treat the injury by creating a new connection from the bile duct to the intestine. The most common treatment, called hepaticojejunostomy, bypasses the injured portion of the bile duct, allowing restoration of normal bile flow.