Primary sclerosing cholangitis.
Worthington J., Chapman R.
Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic cholestatic liver disease of unknown aetiology characterised by inflammation and fibrosis of the biliary tree. The mean age at diagnosis is 40 years and men are affected twice as often as women. There is a reported annual incidence of PSC of 0.9-1.31/100,000 and point prevalence of 8.5-13.6/100,000. The onset of PSC is usually insidious and many patients are asymptomatic at diagnosis or have mild symptoms only such as fatigue, abdominal discomfort and pruritus In late stages, splenomegaly and jaundice may be a feature. In most, the disease progresses to cirrhosis and liver failure. Cholangiocarcinoma develops in 8-30% of patients. PSC is thought to be immune mediated and is often associated with inflammatory bowel disease, especially ulcerative colitis. The disease is diagnosed on typical cholangiographic and histological findings and after exclusion of secondary sclerosing cholangitis. Median survival has been estimated to be 12 years from diagnosis in symptomatic patients. Patients who are asymptomatic at diagnosis, the majority of whom will develop progressive disease, have a survival rate greater than 70% at 16 years after diagnosis. Liver transplantation remains the only effective therapeutic option for patients with end-stage liver disease from PSC, although high dose ursodeoxycholic acid may have a beneficial effect.