Sclerosing cholangitis

Definition

Sclerosing cholangitis refers to swelling (inflammation), scarring, and destruction of the bile ducts inside and outside of the liver.

Causes

The cause of this condition is unknown in most cases.

The disease may be seen in people who have:

Genetic factors may also be responsible. Sclerosing cholangitis occurs more often in men than women. This disorder is rare in children.

Sclerosing cholangitis may also be caused by:

Symptoms

The first symptoms are usually:

However, some people have no symptoms.

Other symptoms may include:

Exams and Tests

Even though some people do not have symptoms, blood tests shows that they have abnormal liver function. Your health care provider will look for:

Tests that show cholangitis include:

Blood tests include liver enzymes (liver function tests).

Treatment

Medicines that may be used include:

These surgical procedures may be done:

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well people do varies. The disease tends to get worse over time. Sometimes people develop:

Some people develop infections of the bile ducts that keep returning.

People with this condition have a high risk of developing cancer of the bile ducts (cholangiocarcinoma). They should be checked regularly with a liver imaging test and blood tests. People who also have IBD may have an increased risk of developing cancer of the colon or rectum and should have periodic colonoscopy.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:


Review Date: 3/26/2019
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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