Bile duct adenoma

By Jason Wasserman MD PhD FRCPC
September 6, 2023

What is a bile duct adenoma?

A bile duct adenoma is a noncancerous type of tumour found in the liver. It is made up of bile ducts, small channels that help move bile and other substances out of the liver.

What causes a bile duct adenoma?

We do not know what causes a bile duct adenoma.

What are the symptoms of a bile duct adenoma?

Most bile duct adenomas do not cause any symptoms and are found incidentally (by accident) when imaging such as an ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan is performed or when the liver is directly examined during a surgical procedure.

Is bile duct adenoma benign or malignant?

A bile duct adenoma is a benign (noncancerous) tumour in the liver.

How is this diagnosis made?

Bile duct adenoma is usually diagnosed after part, or all of the tumour is removed and the tissue is examined under a microscope by a pathologist. These tumours are commonly an unexpected finding during surgery and the tissue is sent for an intraoperative or frozen section examination to rule out more serious conditions that can resemble a bile duct adenoma (such as a metastasis to the liver).

What does a bile duct adenoma look like under the microscope?

When examined under the microscope, a bile duct adenoma is made up of small cells that connect to form circular structures called ducts. The ducts often group together to form a round nodule just under the capsule (outer surface) of the liver. The stroma (connective tissue) surrounding ducts may be described as fibrotic or reactive. Larger channels called portal tracts may also be seen inside the nodule.

Bile duct adenoma
Bile duct adenoma. The tumour is made up of small cells that connect to form circular ducts.
Visit the Atlas of Pathology to see more pictures of bile duct adenomas
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