Table of Contents


What is cholestasis?

Cholestasis occurs when bile flow is stopped or reduced. This blockage will occur somewhere between the liver and the small intestine. It results in a waste product that leaks into the bloodstream and builds up. 

What are the symptoms of cholestasis?

Symptoms include:

  • Intense itching
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Discolored stool
  • Dark urine
  • Deficiency of certain vitamins

What causes cholestasis?

There are multiple causes for cholestasis, which can be divided into issues with the liver and issues outside of the liver. 

If the liver is the root of the problem, then cholestasis is often the symptom of another condition. These include acute hepatitis, primary biliary cholangitis, alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis from hepatitis B or C, and cancer that has spread to the liver. Pregnancy can see this happen as well, as hormones can influence bile ducts. Specific drugs can cause cholestasis as well. 

If the cause originates from outside of the liver, it may be a stone in the bile duct, cancer of the bile duct, cancer in the pancreas, or inflammation in the pancreas. 

How is cholestasis diagnosed?

A blood test is the first step in diagnosis. If this test shows negative results, imaging tests or a liver biopsy will be used. Further tests will be performed in order to discover the root cause. 

What are the treatments for cholestasis?

A surgery or endoscopy will fix any blockages in the bile ducts, but doctors will need to find the root cause of the issue and treat it. Treatment will vary depending on the cause, and doctors may treat specific symptoms as well. 

Where can I find out more about cholestasis?

Cholestasis Articles