What is it?
Sclerosing cholangitis is an inflammatory disease causing fibrosis (stiffening) of the bile ducts both inside and outside the liver.
It is a rare disease that may be associated with inflammatory bowel disease, particularly ulcerative colitis (around 1-4%).
How is it caused?
The cause is unknown but certain factors have been known to play a part in its development, such as:
What are the symptoms?
The disease may be present for many years without symptoms, but may eventually show signs of:
It tends to occur more commonly in men and after 30-50 years of age.
What is the treatment?
Treatment is both medical and surgical.
Few drug treatments have been effective in sclerosing cholangitis other than supplements of Vitamin D and Calcium to prevent osteoporosis and reduction of bone cells.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangio pancreatography (ERCP) and balloon dilatation of the bile duct strictures has been a successful treatment in reducing hospital admissions and improving blood results.
This is generally a means of bypassing the strictured ducts, inserting
stents (small plastic drainage tubes) to keep the ducts patent or, ultimately,
a liver transplant.