Children's Hospital Colorado
Pediatric Surgery

Choledochal Cyst

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What is a choledochal cyst?

A choledochal cyst is a benign (noncancerous) dilation located within the bile ducts, a series of tubes that lead from the liver to the small intestine. The cyst (fluid-filled sac) is caused by dilation, which means the area enlarges, stretches or expands. The cyst can block or slow the flow of bile from the liver to the small intestines. Bile is a fluid in the liver that helps break down fats from food.

What causes choledochal cysts?

There is no known cause of choledochal cysts. Abnormal connections between the bile duct and pancreas (pancreatobiliary junctions) seem to be associated with their formation.

Who gets choledochal cysts?

Choledochal cysts may be congenital (present at birth) or may form later. Most diagnoses occur before age 10, with females diagnosed more often than males. The condition can sometimes run in families. These cysts are more common among people of East Asian descent.

We sometimes associate other conditions that with choledochal cysts, including:

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