Cholestatic pruritus: a retrospective analysis on clinical characteristics and treatment response

J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2013 Feb;11(2):158-68. doi: 10.1111/j.1610-0387.2012.08028.x. Epub 2012 Nov 29.


Background: Chronic cholestatic pruritus (ChP) is caused by various hepatobiliary disorders. This retrospective study describes the distribution of underlying diseases, clinical characteristics and treatment efficacy in a consecutive collective of patients with ChP.

Patients and methods: Extensive data from 60 patients with ChP (30 women, 30 men; mean age: 58.0 ± 17.0 years) were retrospectively statistically analyzed concerning demographic data, pruritus characteristics, and response to therapy.

Results: In this study population, 40.0% of the patients suffered from hepatitis B or C. Regarding the overall population, pruritus started in 50% of patients after diagnosis of the underlying hepatobiliary disorder. Only in patients with immune-mediated liver diseases did pruritus more often occur before diagnosis (p < 0.05). Only 23.3% of the patients reported an initial palmoplantar pruritus. Along with other drugs, anticonvulsants proved to be an effective treatment regime.

Conclusions: In this study, viral pathogenesis was the most common cause of ChP. Other underlying diseases were represented to a lower extent in the total study population. Overall, the collected clinical parameters in each group were comparable. Thus, it was difficult to draw conclusions on the pathogenesis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholestasis / diagnosis*
  • Cholestasis / epidemiology
  • Cholestasis / therapy*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pruritus / diagnosis*
  • Pruritus / epidemiology
  • Pruritus / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Distribution
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult