A PTC is a procedure that allows doctors to insert a stent through the skin and liver. The stent is then placed into the top of the bile duct.

What is a percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTC)?

A percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTC) is a test that uses x-rays to look at the bile duct. The bile duct is a tube that drains bile out of the liver and into the small bowel.

The liver and surrounding organs

Why do I need a PTC?

You may have this procedure to help diagnose cancer. For example, it may be used as a test for bile duct cancer or gall bladder cancer. A PTC  can also be used to place a thin tube (stent) into the bile duct when a cancer is causing a blockage.  

What happens during a PTC?

Doctors will ask you not to eat or drink for a few hours before a PTC. You will have the procedure in the x-ray department. To help prevent infection, you will take antibiotics before and after the PTC. You will probably need to stay in hospital overnight.

A doctor called a radiologist will do the procedure. Once you are lying down, you will have a sedative to make you feel relaxed and drowsy. The doctor injects a local anaesthetic into the skin to numb it. Then they insert a long, thin, flexible needle through the skin and into the liver. You may feel some discomfort as the needle enters the liver.

The doctor looks at x-ray images on a screen to help them guide the needle to the bile duct. Once it is in the bile duct, they inject a dye. This helps shows any abnormality or blockages more clearly. When doctor injects the dye, some people feel warm all over. This is normal and the feeling does not last long.

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