Prevalence of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Gastroenterology. 2021 Dec;161(6):1865-1877. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2021.08.032. Epub 2021 Aug 20.


Background & aims: Although the association between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is well recognized, uncertainties remain about the magnitude of this problem. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis assessing prevalence of PSC in IBD to investigate whether type of IBD, how presence of PSC was defined, sex, disease extent or location, time period, or geographic location influenced prevalence.

Methods: Medline, Embase, and Embase Classic were searched (from inception to April 10, 2021) to identify observational studies recruiting ≥50 adult patients with IBD and reporting prevalence of PSC. Data were extracted, and pooled prevalence, odds ratios (ORs), and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) calculated.

Results: Of 1204 citations, 64 studies were eligible, containing 776,700 patients. Overall, pooled prevalence of PSC in IBD was 2.16%; it was highest in South America and lowest in Southeast Asia. Pooled prevalences in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), Crohn's disease (CD), and IBD-unclassified were 2.47%, 0.96%, and 5.01%, respectively. Pooled prevalence was significantly higher in UC versus CD (OR 1.69, 95% CI 1.24-2.29). In subgroup analyses according to method used to define presence of PSC, the highest prevalence was 2.88% in studies performing both liver biochemistry and endoscopic retrograde/magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography and the lowest was 1.79% in studies using a clinical diagnosis. Prevalence was generally higher in men, patients with more extensive, compared with left-side, UC or ileocolonic or colonic, compared with ileal, CD.

Conclusions: Our findings provide the first pooled estimates of the burden of PSC in IBD, as well as potential risk factors, which may be important in establishing a prompt diagnosis and initiating appropriate surveillance for relevant gastrointestinal malignancies.

Keywords: Crohn’s Disease; Extraintestinal Manifestations; Hepatobiliary Manifestations; Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis; Ulcerative Colitis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / diagnosis
  • Cholangitis, Sclerosing / epidemiology*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / diagnosis
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / epidemiology*
  • Crohn Disease / diagnosis
  • Crohn Disease / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors