Overview of Cholestasis

Cholestasis is a liver disease that occurs when the bile production in the liver is reduced or blocked.

Signs and Symptoms of Cholestasis

Cholestasis is a liver disease that occurs when the bile production in the liver is reduced or blocked. The bile helps in the digestion of foods, especially fats. As the bile production is altered, it may lead to a buildup of bilirubin.

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Types of Cholestasis

Extrahepatic and intrahepatic cholestasis both have the same symptoms. These include:

  • Jaundice
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dark urine
  • Light colored stool
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Excessive itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disturbed sleep

Medications of Cholestasis

Your doctor will prescribe you some medication depending upon your condition. This mediation can include:

  • Antibiotic
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Some non steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS)
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Some antiepileptic drugs
  • Some antifungal drugs
  • Some antipsychotic drugs
  • Some antimicrobial drugs

Causes of Cholestasis

There are two types of cholestasis namely:

  • Intrahepatic Cholestasis - this type of cholestasis originates from within the liver
  • Extrahepatic Cholestasis - this type of cholestasis is caused by some physical barriers like a blockage. Basically, anything that restricts the flow of bile.

Risk Factors of Cholestasis

There are numerous causes of cholestasis. Some possible causes of Intrahepatic cholestasis are:

  • Some underlying disease
  • Infection
  • Drug usage
  • Genetic disorders
  • Hormonal changes also affect the bile flow
  • Tuberculosis
  • Bacterial abscesses in the liver

Extrahepatic cholestasis is caused by blockages. These include:

  • Gallstones
  • Cysts
  • Tumors
  • Pancreatitis
  • A nearby mass or tumor can increase the pressure on the bile ducts

Pregnancy can also increase our chances of having cholestasis.



Pregnancy itself is a possible risk factor for cholestasis. Some factors that can further increase your chances of having cholestasis are:

  • Personal or family history of cholestasis in pregnancy
  • History of liver damage or some liver disease
  • Pregnancy with twins is also a possible risk factor

Complications of Cholestasis

Long term complications of cholestasis also increase when there is pregnancy involved. Some complications of cholestasis in pregnancy can be;

  • Fetal distress
  • Preterm birth
  • Baby starts having bowel movements
  • Severe breathing problems

Treatment of Cholestasis | When to Consult a Doctor

Your doctor will diagnose this disease after performing some tests. These tests can include:

  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests- these tests are a follow up of blood tests, in case they show something abnormal.
  • Liver biopsy

If you are suffering from jaundice, your doctor will first try to determine whether the cause of jaundice lies inside or outside the body by analyzing the symptoms and  by performing a physical examination.

Doctors to treat Cholestasis

Last updated on Monday 21/11/2022


Dr. Muhammad Asif Siddiqui

Pediatrician | MBBS, FCPS , FCPS(Neonatal Medicine),PGPN, IPPN,CHPE , CHR

National Hospital & Medical CenterRs 2000


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Highly recommended. Very good doctor


Dr. Shahid Aslam

Neonatologist, Pediatrician | MBBS , MRCP , MRCPCH

Doctors HospitalRs 2500


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Highly Recommended


Dr. Tariq Rafiq Khan

Neonatologist, Pediatrician | MBBS, MD, DABP, FAAP

Pediatric ClinicRs 2500


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Satisfaction Rate



Highly Recommended

All Doctors treating Cholestasis