St. Luke's Hospital
Located in Chesterfield, MO
Main Number: 314-434-1500
Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia


    Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram

    PTCA; Cholangiogram - PTCA

    A percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTCA) is an x-ray of the bile ducts, the tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine.

    How the Test is Performed

    The test is performed in a radiology department by a radiologist.

    You will be asked to lie on your back on the x-ray table. The health care provider will clean the upper right side of your belly area and then apply a numbing medicine.

    X-rays are used to help the health care provider locate your liver and bile ducts. A long, thin, flexible needle is then inserted through the skin into the liver. The health care provider injects dye, called contrast medium, into the bile ducts. Contrast helps highlight certain areas they can be seen better. More x-rays are taken as the dye flows through the bile ducts into the small intestine. This can be seen on a nearby video monitor.

    How to Prepare for the Test

    Inform the health care provider if you are pregnant. You will be given a hospital gown to wear and will be asked to remove all jewelry.

    You will be asked not to eat or drink anything for 6 hours prior to the exam.

    Tell your health care provider if you are taking any blood thinners such as warfarin (coumadin) or Plavix (clopidrogrel).

    How the Test Will Feel

    There will be a sting as the anesthetic is given and some discomfort as the needle is advanced into the liver. You may be given medication for sedation and/or pain control. Generally,the x-ray itself causes little or no discomfort.

    Why the Test is Performed

    This test can help diagnose the cause of a bile duct blockage.

    Bile a liquid released by the liver. It contains cholesterol, bile salts, and waste products. Bile salts help your body break down (digest) fats. A blockage of the bile duct can lead to swelling of the gallbladder or pancreas.

    This results of this test may help your doctor plan treatments for a bile duct blockage. For example, it can help determine where a drainage tube or stent can be placed.

    Normal Results

    The bile ducts are normal in size and appearance for the age of the patient.

    What Abnormal Results Mean

    The results may show that the ducts are enlarged, which may indicate the ducts are blocked. The blockage may be caused by scarring or stones. It may also indicate cancer in the bile ducts, liver, pancreas, or region of the gallbladder.

    See also:

    • Blocked bile ducts
    • Cholangitis (infection in common bile duct)


    There is a slight chance of an allergic reaction to the contrast medium (iodine).

    There is a slight chance of damage to nearby organs, excessive blood loss, blood poisoning (sepsis), and inflammation of the bile ducts.


    This test has been mostly replaced by an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) test, which can also treat the blockage. This test may be done if an ERCP test cannot be performed or has failed.

    A magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is a newer, noninvasive imaging method, based on MRI. It provides similar views of the bile ducts, but is not always possible to perform. It cannot be used to treat the blockage.


    Lidofsky S. Jaundice. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 20.

    Wael E.A. Saad, Michael J. Wallace, Joan C. Wojak, Sanjoy Kundu. Quality Improvement Guidelines for Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography, Biliary Drainage, and Percutaneous Cholecystostomy. Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology Vol. 21, Issue 6, Pages June 2010. 789-795.


    • Gallstones, cholangiogra...


    • Gallbladder anatomy


      • Gallstones, cholangiogra...


      • Gallbladder anatomy


      A Closer Look

        Tests for Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram

        Review Date: 1/31/2011

        Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jason Levy, MD, Northside Radiology Associates, Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

        A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.

        Back  |  Top
        About Us
        Contact Us
        Locations & Directions
        Quality Reports
        Annual Reports
        Honors & Awards
        Community Health Needs

        Brain & Spine
        Sleep Medicine
        Urgent Care
        Women's Services
        All Services
        Patients & Visitors
        Locations & Directions
        Find a Physician
        Tour St. Luke's
        Patient & Visitor Information
        Contact Us
        Payment Options
        Financial Assistance
        Send a Card
        Mammogram Appointments
        Health Tools
        My Personal Health
        Spirit of Women
        Health Information & Tools
        Clinical Trials
        Employer Programs -
        Passport to Wellness

        Classes & Events
        Classes & Events
        Spirit of Women
        Donate & Volunteer
        Giving Opportunities
        Physicians & Employees
        For Physicians
        Remote Access
        Medical Residency Information
        Pharmacy Residency Information
        Physician CPOE Training
        St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
        Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Notice of Privacy Practices PDF  |  Patient Rights PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile