Challenges in Diagnosis and Management of Hemobilia

Radiographics. 2021 May-Jun;41(3):802-813. doi: 10.1148/rg.2021200192.


Hemobilia, or hemorrhage within the biliary system, is an uncommon form of upper gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding that presents unique diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Most cases are the result of iatrogenic trauma, although accidental trauma and a variety of inflammatory, infectious, and neoplastic processes have also been implicated. Timely diagnosis can often be difficult, as the classic triad of upper GI hemorrhage, biliary colic, and jaundice is present in a minority of cases, and there may be considerable delay in the onset of bleeding after the initial injury. Therefore, the radiologist must maintain a high index of suspicion for this condition and be attuned to its imaging characteristics across a variety of modalities. CT is the first-line diagnostic modality in evaluation of hemobilia, while catheter angiography and endoscopy play vital and complementary roles in both diagnosis and treatment. The authors review the clinical manifestations and multimodality imaging features of hemobilia, describe the wide variety of underlying causes, and highlight key management considerations.©RSNA, 2021.

MeSH terms

  • Angiography
  • Gallbladder Diseases*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Hemobilia* / diagnostic imaging
  • Hemobilia* / etiology
  • Hemobilia* / therapy
  • Humans