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Cholestasis: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2023

What is the treatment?

Since Cholestasis is common during pregnancy, it may also be referred to as ICP or Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy.

How is the treatment done?

For one's body to function properly, it's important that all the vital organs work as they are supposed to. However, sometimes one or the other vital organ stops functioning properly, which can lead to a host of health problems. Out of these vital organs, one of the most important ones is liver. The improper functioning of the liver can lead to many conditions. However, the particular condition in which the liver is unable to maintain the flow of bile to the duodenum is known as Cholestasis. Cholestasis is very common among pregnant women and usually occurs in its later stages. Women who go through this condition experience a intense itching although without the development of any rashes. The itches usually occur on the hands and feet although they can affect other parts of the woman's body as well. Apart from being severely uncomfortable experience, cholestasis also carries with it the risk of pregnancy complications. These complications can get so severe that the doctor may suggest that the patient go through an early pregnancy. Hence, proper medical intervention is required if one notices the signs and symptoms of cholestasis. Fortunately, multiple treatment options for cholestasis exist and these range from self-care and medications to surgery in extreme cases. However, most of these treatment procedures are safe and successful

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

The first stage of treatment for cholestasis comprises of self-care. These include following a strictly low-fat diet so that cardiovascular health can be improved and the condition can be managed. However, self-care treatments are generally not enough on their own and medications are administered side by side to bring about speedy recovery. Cholesterol medications are generally given to affected individuals as they decrease the level of harmful cholesterol in the patient's blood and increase the level of good cholesterol, thereby helping cure cholestasis. These medications are mostly taken orally. That said, medications and self-care may not be enough and the patient may require to go through surgery in severe cases. There are two types of surgery that can be performed - cholecystectomy and laparoscopic surgery. In a cholecystectomy, the gall bladder of the patient is removed. This procedure is carried out by inserting a small video camera as well as surgical tools into the patient's abdomen via four small incisions. In a laparoscopic surgery too a camera or a laparoscope is inserted into the patient's abdomen via a small incision in order to remove the tissue that is blocking the bile from flowing to duodenum.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Any individual who suffers from cholestasis is eligible for all of the treatment options mentioned. However, surgical procedures are only recommended in severe cases.


Are there any side effects?

Individuals who suffer from allergies are not eligible for the medications used for treatment. Apart from that, women who are suffering from pregnancy complications may not be eligible candidates for surgery either. Moreover, if the experience minor itching that is not cholestasis, they may not be eligible for any of the treatments mentioned here.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Each of the treatment procedures for cholestasis carries side effects. The medications used can lead to side effects such as muscle pain or soreness, vomiting, weakness, constipation and dizziness among others. Common side effects of the surgical procedures used include pain in the stomach, diarrhea, cramps , fatigue, back pain, bowel problems, constipation, flatulence and other stomach-related problems.

How long does it take to recover?

For medications and self-care, there are no post-treatment guidelines per se. However, after surgery, the patient will have to follow certain guidelines. These include having someone to take you home after surgery and stay with for at least 24 hours in order to help in case of any emergency complications. Also, certain restrictions on diet as well as physical activity are put till the patient recovers fully.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

It takes around 6 to 8 weeks to recover fully from the surgery. Recovery after medications is almost instant.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The cost of medications used amounts to roughly Rs 300 per month. The cost of surgery on the other hand can range between Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The results of a surgery are permanent so patients need not worry about a recurrence of the same problem.


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Written ByDr. Pankaj Verma ACLS,POST GRADUATE COURSE IN RHEUMATOLOGY,Fellowship in Diabetes,MBBS,Post Graduate Course In Rheumatology,MD - Medicine,Masters in Psychotherapy and CounsellingInternal Medicine
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Reviewed ByDr. Bhupindera Jaswant SinghMD - Consultant PhysicianGeneral Physician
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