Doctor taking blood pressure of patient.

Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography

At Providence, our doctors use screenings like percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography to determine the causes of a wide range of pancreatic, liver and gallbladder conditions with detailed certainty.

Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography (PTHC) is a radiographic procedure that uses a contrast material in combination with X-rays to produce clearer images of your biliary tract.

PTHC is useful in evaluating symptoms of liver and pancreatic conditions, as well as diagnosing and treating problems in the gallbladder and bile ducts. It can also be used as a drainage technique, should the biliary tree be obstructed by strictures.

PTHC follows the same procedural steps as a standard X-ray scan. However, unlike a standard X-ray, PTHC is administered by using a contrast material injected into the liver’s bile ducts.

During your scan, also called a cholangiogram, a needle injects a small amount of contrast dye into your bile duct. The dye helps produce detailed and clear images of the ducts on the X-ray screen and allows your doctor to see and analyze any blockages within them.

Should your doctor notice any abnormalities during your PTHC, they may apply stents to prevent strictures or recommend that a biopsy take place for further analysis. Your gastroenterologist may also use the needle to drain bile and relieve pressure in the duct.

Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography is a type of X-ray imaging test; therefore, a small amount of radiation exposure is common. Because the exposure is minimal however, the test itself has been shown as a proven method for safe imaging and is not associated with any health risks. Any complications that may occur during the procedure relate to how the contrast agent is injected. These complications can include minor bleeding or swelling at the injection site and often do not occur.