Background: The aim of the present study was to describe the characteristics of patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) and hepatobiliary disease that does not satisfy the diagnostic cholangiographic criteria of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and to compare this group with PSC patients.
Methods: Among 199 patients with UC admitted to our department during 1986-91, 64 patients had major hepatobiliary disease considered to be associated with the colitis. Biochemical tests, colonoscopy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiography (ERC), and liver biopsy were performed in these 64 patients and in 5 patients from our outpatient clinic.
Results: PSC was diagnosed in 51 patients (group I; 80%). The other 13 patients (20%) and the additional 5 patients (n = 18; group II) all had normal extrahepatic bile ducts. Five patients in group II also had normal intrahepatic ducts, whereas 13 patients had intrahepatic abnormalities. The male to female ratio in group II was 2.0:1. All of them had extensive colitis. The clinical symptoms and the biochemical and histologic findings were quite similar in groups I and II.
Conclusions: The patients in group II of this study constitute a major group with hepatobiliary lesions associated with UC, amounting to one-fourth the number of PSC patients. They have several similarities with classical PSC of the large bile ducts, and we suggest that they be classified as having small-duct PSC.