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Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2005 May;21(3):348-53.

Sclerosing cholangitis.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.



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.


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


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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