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Percutaneous Transhepatic Biliary Drainage


  • Percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage (PTBD) is a procedure that opens a blocked bile duct. Your bile duct is like a network of pipes that go from your liver to your gallbladder, pancreas, and small intestine (bowel). Your liver is an organ that makes fluid called bile, which is stored in your gallbladder and helps digest food. Digestion is the process of the body breaking down food that is eaten. When bile reaches your small intestine, it helps break down the fat in your food. The pancreas is an organ that helps you digest food.
  • You may need PTBD if your bile duct is blocked because of swelling, infection, growths, or small stones. During PTBD, your caregiver puts a tube in your bile duct to drain out bile. You may have the tube for a short time, or it may be long-lasting. After PTBD, your body may digest food more easily. Abdominal pain and jaundice (yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes), may decrease. PTBD can help you get the nutrition that you need to feel better and be healthier.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • Your caregiver will look at your tube to see that it is in the correct place, and working as it should be. If you have a drainage bag, your caregiver will check the color and amount of bile in it. A blood sample may be collected for tests, and you may need to have other tests done.

PTBD tube care:

Ask your caregiver how to care for your tube and the skin around it. If you have a bag attached to the PTBD tube, you will need to check for bile in the bag. Ask caregivers how much bile should be in the bag, and what color it should be. You will need to make sure the PTBD tube is not blocked. Ask caregivers when to flush (clear out) the inside of the tube, and to show you how to flush it.


  • Your skin or the whites of your eyes look more yellow than usual.
  • You have a fever.
  • You feel sick to your stomach or are throwing up.
  • Your stool has changed color, and is very light or dark.
  • Your skin around your tube is itchy, red, swollen, or painful.
  • You have questions about the PTBD tube.


  • You have a drainage bag, and there is little or no fluid draining into the bag.
  • You are coughing or vomiting blood.
  • You are dizzy, or you feel too weak to stand up.
  • You have new trouble breathing.
  • Your abdomen is hard, swollen, or painful.
  • Your tube falls out.
  • Your stools look red, or you see blood when you go to the bathroom.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Percutaneous Transhepatic Biliary Drainage (Aftercare Instructions)

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