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Liver Disease:

Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a disease that, over time, causes permanent damage to the liver's bile ducts. In people with PSC, inflammation and scarring cause the bile ducts to become blocked. Bile then accumulates in the liver, where it gradually causes cirrhosis (scarring). Backed-up bile can also become infected, causing acute illness. As scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue, the liver loses its ability to function.

Most people want to know about primary sclerosing cholangitis life expectancy. All this described above happens very slowly, over the course of 10 to 15 years. Most people with PSC are asymptomatic, especially early on. When symptoms do develop, they tend to come and go.

Symptoms of Cholangitis

  • Extreme itching
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

Liver illustrationSymptoms of a bile infection include fever, chills and abdominal pain. Because people with PSC rarely have symptoms, it is often discovered when they undergo routine liver tests. A formal diagnosis is made using cholangiography, a type of X-ray performed under sedation.

There is no cure for PSC. A liver specialist will prescribe medications and diet changes to control symptoms, and in some cases surgery may help improve bile flow. For most people, PSC leads to liver failure, though it can also lead to bile duct cancer. Many people with PSC will need a liver transplant.