Spontaneous course of symptoms in primary sclerosing cholangitis: relationships with biochemical and histological features

Hepatogastroenterology. Jan-Feb 1999;46(25):136-41.


An analysis was made of the symptom diaries of 65 patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) who recorded their symptoms of itching, pain and fever during a 3 year period. Symptoms occurred in 84% of the patients, with considerable individual variations in symptom load. Symptoms were usually intermittent. "Itching only" and "pain only" were the most frequent episode features. Most episodes lasted only 1-2 days. Fever seemed to be the most embarrassing symptom. Apart from close correlations between pruritus and serum ALP levels, there were no significant correlations between the symptom load and serum biochemistry or eleven different histological features. Even daily symptoms over a period of several months could disappear spontaneously. We conclude that most symptom episodes in PSC are mono-symptomatic and brief. Biochemical or histological data do not predict the appearance of symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Bile Ducts / pathology
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / blood
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / diagnosis*
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pruritus / etiology


  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase