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Hepatology. 1995 Nov;22(5):1415-22.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis in 32 children: clinical, laboratory, and radiographic features, with survival analysis.

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Department of Pediatrics, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The clinical presentation and outcome of 32 children with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) are reviewed, the largest North American series. The majority of patients were diagnosed in their second decade (median age: 13 years). Four children presented before the age of 2 years, but none in the neonatal period. Seventeen patients had inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), all with colitis, 14 ulcerative colitis, and 3 Crohn's disease. Eight patients presented with chronic liver disease before clinical onset of IBD. Only 8 of 32 patients were jaundiced at presentation. Fifteen of 32 had a normal serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) level at presentation. Nine children presented with features similar to those of autoimmune hepatitis. Cholangiography was performed in all cases and classified by a scoring system specifically developed for pediatric patients. Intrahepatic disease predominated; in only three cases a common bile duct stricture was identified requiring stenting. Findings on the initial liver biopsy were classified according to Ludwig's criteria for staging PSC: there were 15 biopsies in stages 1 to 2 and 17 biopsies stages 3 to 4. HLA class I and II antigens were determined in 27 patients. An increased incidence of HLA B8 and DR2(15) but not DRw52a (DRB3*0101) was found. Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) was positive in 10 of 24 patients tested. Survival analysis indicated that a later age at presentation, splenomegaly, and prolonged prothrombin time (PT) at presentation were significant contributors to the prediction of poor outcome (i.e., death or listing for transplantation). Liver transplantation was successfully performed in seven children. Physicians must maintain a high index of suspicion of PSC in any child or young adult presenting with chronic liver disease, especially in the presence of IBD, even with a normal serum alkaline phosphatase level.

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