Choledochal cysts

(say col-eh-DOKE-al sists)

Also called biliary cysts.

Choledochal cysts are very rare. They are swellings in your bile ducts and are usually found in young children. But they can sometimes be diagnosed in adults.

The best treatment for choledochal cysts is surgery. If the cysts are not treated, they can cause serious liver damage. They can also increase your risk of getting bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma). The risk of getting cancer is a lot lower if the cysts are removed early in life. You can find out more about bile duct cancer here .

There are 5 different types of choledochal cysts, depending on exactly where they are. Caroli disease is sometimes also called Type 5 (V) choledochal cysts. If you have Caroli disease, the information on our Caroli disease page will be more useful for you.

Choledochal cysts are part of a group of conditions called “fibrocystic liver conditions”. You can find out more about the other conditions in this group here.

This page is about choledochal cysts found in adults. If choledochal cysts are found and treated in childhood, there is less chance of serious liver damage. You can find out more about choledochal cysts in children by going to the Children’s liver disease foundation website.


On this page:

Quick summary | Useful wordsCausesTypes of choledochal cystSymptomsTestsTreatmentLiving with choledochal cysts