Objective: Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is characterized by progressive fibrotic inflammation and strictures of the biliary system. We studied the role of dominant stenoses in bacterial biliary infections and the effect of routine antibiotic administration with cholangiography.
Design: A prospective clinical trial without blinding or randomization.
Setting: The endoscopy unit in a university hospital.
Participants: Fifty patients with PSC entered and finished the study.
Interventions: A total of 103 endoscopic retrograde cholangiographies (ERC) was performed in 37 PSC patients with dominant stenosis and 13 controls with PSC but no dominant stenosis. After selective cannulation of the bile duct, bile samples were obtained during each procedure. All patients received systemic antibiotic treatment with ciprofloxacin for one week after ERC.
Results: Enteric bacteria were detected in the bile specimens of 15 out of 37 PSC patients (40.5%) with dominant stenosis but never in the absence of dominant stenosis (P=0.004). Positive cultures for enteric bacteria were associated with elevated serum C-reactive protein, high leukocyte counts in bile (P<0.05) and the deterioration of liver function assessed by increasing bilirubin levels during the follow-up period lasting a median of 7 months (P=0.06). Despite the high rate of susceptibility in vitro, ciprofloxacin treatment eradicated enteric bacteria in only two out of 12 cases.
Conclusion: Bacterial infection of the bile ducts with dominant stenosis is a frequent finding and may play a role in the progression of PSC. Short-course antibiotic treatment is not very effective in eradicating acteria from the bile ducts.