Sclerosing cholangitis

George R MacFaul, Roger W Chapman
Current Opinion in Gastroenterology 2005, 21 (3): 348-53

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a chronic cholestatic liver disease characterized by strictures of the biliary tree. It is immune mediated, although the precise cause remains unknown. Recent reports have shown a higher prevalence and burden of disease than was previously suspected.

RECENT FINDINGS: The research into the etiopathogenesis, epidemiology, diagnosis of cholangiocarcinoma, medical and surgical therapy, and timing and outcome of liver transplantation is discussed.

SUMMARY: Genetic heterogeneity among patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis is supported, and further gene polymorphisms associated with protection against primary sclerosing cholangitis have been elucidated. Bile duct injury seems to be a multistep process. Magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography is a cost-effective and accurate way of diagnosing primary sclerosing cholangitis in comparison with endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. Ursodeoxycholic acid may have a role as a colorectal and hepatobiliary cancer chemopreventive agent. Liver transplantation remains the only treatment in end-stage disease. The 5-year and 10-year patient and graft survival rates are comparable with those in patients without primary sclerosing cholangitis, but there is a higher rate of retransplantation for primary sclerosing cholangitis in most centers. Hepatobiliary malignancy is found in a minority of patients at transplantation, although 5-year survival rates for these patients are still promising.

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