Epidemiology of primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cirrhosis: a systematic review

J Hepatol. 2012 May;56(5):1181-1188. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2011.10.025. Epub 2012 Jan 13.


Objective: Studies on the epidemiology of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) show variable outcome. We aimed at systematically reviewing the incidence and prevalence rates, as well as geographical distribution and temporal trends of PSC and PBC.

Data sources: A systematic search of literature was performed in Medline and EMBASE (search last conducted January 10th, 2011).

Study selection: Population-based epidemiological studies reporting incidence and/or prevalence rates for PSC or PBC in a defined geographical area of at least 100,000 adult inhabitants were considered relevant.

Data extraction: Study area, study period, number of patients, number of inhabitants, incidence per 100,000 inhabitants per year, prevalence per 100,000 inhabitants, method of case-finding, method of case-ascertainment, male/female ratio and in case of PSC, occurrence of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) were extracted from retrieved articles.

Results: The literature search yielded 2286 abstracts of which 31 articles fulfilled all inclusion criteria. Studies varied in size from 10 to 770 patients in catchment areas from 100,312 to 19,230,000 inhabitants. The incidence and prevalence rates for PSC range from 0 to 1.3 per 100,000 inhabitants/year and 0-16.2 per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively. PBC incidence rates range from 0.33 to 5.8 per 100,000 inhabitants/year and prevalence rates range from 1.91 to 40.2 per 100,000 inhabitants; prevalence rates are increasing in time.

Conclusions: Incidence and prevalence rates of both PSC and PBC vary widely and seem to be increasing. True population-based studies are scarce and therefore large population-based studies combining meticulous case-finding and case-ascertainment strategies are necessary.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Western World