What is biliary atresia?
Biliary atresia is a rare disease of the liver and bile ducts that occurs in infants. Symptoms of the disease appear or develop about two to eight weeks after birth.
Cells within the liver produce liquid called bile. Bile helps to digest fat. It also carries waste products from the liver to the intestines for excretion.
This network of channels and ducts is called the biliary system. When the biliary system is working the way it should, it lets the bile drain from the liver into the intestines.
When a baby has biliary atresia, bile flow from the liver to the gallbladder is blocked. This causes the bile to be trapped inside the liver, quickly causing damage and scarring of the liver cells (cirrhosis), and finally liver failure.