Bilomas refer to extrabiliary collections of bile. They can be either intra- or extrahepatic. 

There is a slight discrepency in the reported literature in the use of the term "biloma". Many authors have used it exclusively to refer to intrahepatic bile collections or other bilious collections which are discretely organised rather than free biliary leak into the peritoneum.

Although usually asymptomatic, they may present with symptomatic bile peritonitis 7.

They can result from a number of causes:

Seventy percent of bilomas are localized to the right upper quadrant, whereas the remaining 30% develop in the left upper quadrant. A biloma may wall off or may continue to demonstrate active bile leakage.

The goals of imaging in the assessment of biloma are:

  • confirm the presence of a bile leak
  • determine if it is extrahepatic or intrahepatic
  • describe its extent
  • assess for associated biliary obstruction

Bilious fluid is water attenuation, usually seen collecting in the right upper quadrant. CT intravenous cholangiography can demonstrate a communication between the biliary tree and the biloma, localising the leak. 

Bilious fluid demonstrates variable signal intensity on T1-weighted imaging, and high signal intensity on T2-weighted imaging, similar to the signal intensity of gallbladder fluid.

Both gadolinium and manganese-based MRI contrast agents that  are excreted through the biliary system are available. A delayed enhanced MRI examination using one of these agents may be useful to confirm that a localised fluid collection is composed of bile and to identify the site of bile leak 7.

A Tc99 diisopropyl iminodiacetic acid (DISIDA) scan is useful for confirmation of an active bile leak.

Treatment options include:

  • pigtail drainage (under USG/CT guidance)
  • surgical drainage

Management of bilomas can also involve treating any associated biliary tract obstruction which can both complicate and cause bilomas. Surgical repair of the source of underlying biliary tract bile leak may also be required.

General imaging differential considerations include:

Share article

Article information

rID: 9840
Tag: liver
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Bilomas

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Case 1: post trauma
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 2: with colonic drainage
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 3: post traumatic biloma
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Case 4: from ruptured gallbladder
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.