Biliary Duct Dilatation: AJR Expert Panel Narrative Review

Daniel R. Ludwig, Malak Itani, David D. Childs, Margarita V. Revzin, Koushik K. Das, Mark A. Anderson, Hina Arif-Tiwari, Mark E. Lockhart, Ann S. Fulcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biliary duct dilatation is a common incidental finding in practice, but it is unlikely to indicate biliary obstruction in the absence of clinical symptoms or elevated levels on liver function tests (LFTs). However, the clinical presentation may be nonspecific, and LFTs may either be unavailable or difficult to interpret. The goal of this AJR Expert Panel Narrative Review is to highlight a series of topics fundamental to the management of biliary duct dilatation, providing consensus recommendations in a question-and-answer format. We start by covering a basic approach to interpreting LFT results, the strengths and weaknesses of the biliary imaging modalities, and how and where to measure the extrahepatic bile duct. Next, we define the criteria for biliary duct dilatation, including patients with prior cholecystectomy and advanced age, and discuss when and whether biliary duct dilatation can be attributed to papillary stenosis or sphincter of Oddi dysfunction. Subsequently, we discuss two conditions in which the duct is pathologically dilated but not obstructed: congenital cystic dilatation (i.e., choledochal cyst) and intraductal papillary neoplasm of the bile duct. Finally, we provide guidance regarding when to recommend obtaining additional imaging or testing, such as endoscopic ultrasound or ERCP, and include a discussion of future directions in biliary imaging.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • CT
  • MRI
  • biliary duct dilatation
  • biliary enzymes
  • cholangiopancreatography
  • cholecystectomy
  • duct measurement
  • obstruction
  • ultrasound


Dive into the research topics of 'Biliary Duct Dilatation: AJR Expert Panel Narrative Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this