Medical Treatment for Biliary Atresia
At Hassenfeld Children's Hospital of New York at NYU Langone, gastroenterologists—doctors who specialize in managing conditions of the digestive system—prescribe medications and vitamins to support liver function and boost nutrition after surgery for biliary atresia. Some children may eventually outgrow the need for these medications. Others may need to take them throughout their lives.
Broad-spectrum antibiotics, which are effective against a wide range of bacteria, may be used to prevent cholangitis, a serious infection of the common bile duct that can develop after surgery. Our doctors usually prescribe these medications, which are given in liquid form by mouth, for at least one year after surgery.
Bile salts are substances naturally found in bile that help the body to digest fats, absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and flush waste from the liver. Doctors usually prescribe synthetic bile salts to support the liver. Bile salts are available in liquid form and taken by mouth. This supplement may be needed for life to aid in digestion after surgery for biliary atresia.
Children with biliary atresia may have difficulty absorbing vitamins A, D, E, and K, even after surgery. Our doctors prescribe vitamin supplements to replace these essential nutrients and ensure that your baby grows and develops normally. Vitamin supplements are given by mouth in liquid or chewable form.
Steroids are often given after surgery to prevent or reduce inflammation in the liver and improve bile flow. Steroids can be given to your child in the hospital, where they are administered through a vein as an intravenous treatment. Some children may continue to take steroids by mouth for a period of time at home.