This test can help diagnose the cause of a bile duct blockage. Bile is a liquid released by the liver. It contains cholesterol, bile salts, and waste products. Bile salts help your body break down (digest) fats. A blockage of the bile duct can lead to swelling of the gallbladder or pancreas.
A diagnostic PTC is also performed when other less invasive methods of imaging the biliary tree (e.g. MR imaging, MRCP [Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography], ERCP [Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography], CT imaging) have proven unsatisfactory. Some of the reasons a PTC is carried out are:
- a failed ERCP procedure;
- an ERCP is not feasible (e.g. patients with gastrojejunostomy);
- the biliary system cannot be clearly seen / outlined due to gallstones;
- to identify any obstructive causes of liver jaundice and differentiate from medically treatable causes;
- to review anatomic complications of ERCP; and / or
- to identify and outline any bile leaks.