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Drainage procedure (biliary)

Commonly carried out when the bile ducts are blocked, biliary drainage is the insertion of a tube into the bile duct to allow the bile out.

Drainage procedure (biliary)

Commonly carried out when the bile ducts are blocked, biliary drainage is the insertion of a tube into the bile duct to allow the bile out.

What is a biliary drainage?

Biliary drainage is the insertion of a tube into the bile duct. This is most commonly carried out when the bile ducts are blocked. 

The bile ducts allow bile (a fluid that is produced by the liver to help with the digestion of fats) to drain from the liver to the small intestine.

When the bile ducts are blocked, bile cannot leave the body and builds up. This build-up produces a yellow colour in the skin called jaundice and can also cause itching and dark urine. 

The drainage tube is placed through the skin into one of the bile ducts in the liver to allow bile out. Another common name for this procedure is a percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTC).

How much will my procedure cost?

Fees for radiology procedures vary and depend on a number of factors, including the type of procedure, what has been requested on your referral and the Medicare rebates available. I-MED endeavours to keep co-payments as low as possible which includes working with private health funds to enter into non-gap agreements. We will advise you of any fees associated with your examination at the time of making your appointment or when you arrive at the clinic. Alternatively you can contact us and one of our team will be happy to answer any queries regarding fees. For more information about fees and rebates please visit our account FAQs.

How do I prepare for a biliary drainage? keyboard_arrow_down

You are required not to eat or drink four hours before the procedure. If you are diabetic, you are advised to check with the radiology practice before fasting. 

You may need to stop medications that thin your blood, as these will increase your risk of bleeding (e.g. Warfarin). 

It is also recommended that you bring any recent x-rays or scans with you to your appointment. 

As you won’t be allowed to drive yourself home following the procedure (given you’ve had sedation or anesthesia), it is recommended a relative or friend collect you from the clinic. It is also recommended that the relative or friend stay with you the night of the procedure in order to provide assistance, should you require it.

What happens during a biliary drainage? keyboard_arrow_down

This procedure is usually carried out with the assistance of either sedation or a general anesthetic. 

The skin of your abdomen is washed with antiseptic and then a very fine needle is inserted through the skin to administer local anesthetic. 

A small cut is made in the skin and a thin needle is passed through the skin into the liver and then into a bile duct inside the liver. Contrast medium (‘dye’) is then injected into the bile duct, as this allows it to be seen on x-ray images. X-ray images are taken to see the path of the bile ducts. 

A thin wire is passed through the centre of the needle into the bile duct. A thin drainage tube is then inserted over the top of the wire into the bile duct.

Are there any after effects of a biliary drainage? keyboard_arrow_down

After the procedure, you will need to recover from the effects of any sedation or anesthetic medications that were used. 

There is usually some initial discomfort or pain at where the tube passes through the skin. This can be easily managed with regular pain relief medications. 

The drainage bag will need to be emptied regularly. You will be advised on how to do this. If the tube needs to stay in for a long time, some skin redness/irritation can occur around the point at which the drain enters the skin.

How long does a biliary drainage take? keyboard_arrow_down

Inserting the drain usually takes 60–90 minutes. After the procedure, you will need to be monitored for at least 4–6 hours.

Related procedures

Related procedures

How much will my procedure cost?

Fees for radiology procedures vary and depend on a number of factors, including the type of procedure, what has been requested on your referral and the Medicare rebates available. I-MED endeavours to keep co-payments as low as possible which includes working with private health funds to enter into non-gap agreements. We will advise you of any fees associated with your examination at the time of making your appointment or when you arrive at the clinic. Alternatively you can contact us and one of our team will be happy to answer any queries regarding fees. For more information about fees and rebates please visit our account FAQs.