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Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis


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NORD is very grateful to Keith Lindor, MD, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, for assistance in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

  • Chronic Obliterative Cholangitis
  • Fibrosing Cholangitis
  • PSC
  • Stenosing Cholangitis

Disorder Subdivisions

  • No subdivisions found.

General Discussion

Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a rare progressive disorder characterized by inflammation, thickening, and abnormal formation of fibrous tissue (fibrosis) within the passages that carry bile from the liver (bile ducts). Both the bile ducts within the liver (intrahepatic) and outside the liver (extrahepatic) are affected. This often results in the obstruction or interruption of bile flow from the liver (cholestasis). Symptoms associated with PSC include fatigue and itching (pruritus), followed by yellowing of the skin, mucous membranes, and whites of the eyes (jaundice). Affected individuals may also have dark urine, light-colored stools, abdominal pain, and/or nausea. In some cases, the liver may also become abnormally enlarged (hepatomegaly). Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) eventually develops and many individuals will ultimately require a liver transplant. According to the medical literature, approximately 60 to 80 percent of individuals with PSC also have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), most often ulcerative colitis. The relationship between these disorders and the exact cause of PSC are not fully understood.
PSC is a complex disorder and the cause (etiology) and underlying manner the disease develops (pathogenesis) are not fully understood. PSC was first described in the medical literature in 1867. Some researchers believe that PSC represents a group of disorders or a disorder with several distinct subtypes (e.g. PSC with IBD or without IBD). It is likely that PSC may have different underlying causes in different individuals. PSC is a rapidly evolving disease concept and information about PSC is constantly changing and emerging as researchers work to better understand this disorder.

Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis Resources

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