The common bile duct is a tube that connects the liver, gallbladder,
and pancreas to the small intestine and helps to deliver fluids that aid digestion.
A common bile duct exploration
is performed if an x-ray determines that there is a blockage of the duct. If the blockage is not removed, the duct may become infected,
resulting in emergency surgery. Common bile duct exploration is often done during
surgery to remove the gallbladder.
Laparoscopic surgery uses a thin, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope,
which is inserted through a small incision. The laparoscope is connected to a tiny
video camera—smaller than a dime—that projects a view of the operative site through video monitors located in the Operating Room. Two or three additional small
incisions are made near the laparoscope through which the surgeon inserts specialized
surgical instruments to explore the common bile
duct and adjacent structures. Once the blockage is located, a flexible endoscope
is used to retrieve it. A temporary tube may be put in place after the operation to
drain excess bile. Following the procedure, the small incisions are closed with
sutures and covered with surgical tape.