Conditions + Treatments

What is Biliary Atresia?

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Contact the Center for Childhood Liver Disease

  • 1-617-355-5837
  • International: +01-617-355-5209

Bile is an important fluid produced by your child’s liver and stored in her gallbladder. In a healthy system, it flows through a tube called the common bile duct to the small intestine, where it helps to digest food.

If your child has biliary atresia, her common bile duct is blocked or damaged, so that it’s impossible for bile to flow through it, just as it’s hard for water to pass through a clogged pipe. This is called “cholestasis,” or poor bile flow, and quickly leads to malnutrition and liver damage.

Biliary atresia is a chronic, progressive liver problem, and fatal if left untreated. This condition:

  • is the most common cause of chronic liver disease in newborns
  • occurs once in every 30,000 births
  • is the most common reason for liver transplants in children
  • affects children of all races and ethnicities, but may be more common in Asians

Scott Elisofon, MD, Medical Director of the Liver Transplant Program

Our approach to biliary atresia

At Boston Children’s, biliary atresia is treated by a small number of doctors with specific expertise within the large, multidisciplinary Divisions of  Gastroenterology and  Pediatric Surgery. We’re known for our individualized and science-driven approach. We’re home to the most extensive research enterprise located in a pediatric hospital in the world, and we partner with a number of top biotech and health care organizations—but our physicians never forget that your child is a child, and not just a patient.

Boston Children’s is also home to New England’s largest pediatric Liver Transplant Program. If your child has biliary atresia, our team will work with you from the beginning to identify the best treatment options for each stage of his or her condition.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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