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Review
, 64 (3), 632-642

Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis: A Concise Review of Diagnosis and Management

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Review

Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis: A Concise Review of Diagnosis and Management

Zachary P Fricker et al. Dig Dis Sci.

Abstract

Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a rare, chronic cholestatic liver disease characterized by progressive idiopathic stricturing of the biliary system, typically leading to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, and colonic or hepatobiliary malignancy. Its presentation is often that of asymptomatic alkaline phosphatase elevation. When symptoms are present, they typically include fatigue, pruritus, or jaundice. The diagnosis can be confirmed via cholangiography, either magnetic resonance cholangiography (MRCP) or endoscopic retrograde cholangiography if the former is inconclusive. The clinical course is marked by progressive liver disease leading to cirrhosis with its attendant complications of portal hypertension, often including recurrent episodes of cholangitis. Greater elevation in alkaline phosphatase or liver stiffness is associated with worse clinical outcomes. Management includes endoscopic treatment of symptomatic biliary strictures and evaluation of dominant strictures as no adequate medical treatment is available. Multiple medical therapies are under evaluation. Ultimately, liver transplantation may be necessary for management of decompensated cirrhosis or disabling symptoms. There is also a markedly increased risk of cancer, notably including cholangiocarcinoma and gallbladder and colorectal cancers (particularly in patients with colitis). Cancer screening can be done with semi-annual liver imaging (MRCP or ultrasound) and colonoscopy every 1-2 years in those with colitis.

Keywords: Cholangiocarcinoma; Cholangiopathy; Cholestasis; Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).

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