Sclerosing cholangitis is a condition characterized by inflammation, scarring, narrowing and destruction of the bile ducts, both within and outside the liver. The disease gets worse overtime and may lead to liver failure, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), and recurrent bile duct infection and cancer.
The exact cause of sclerosing cholangitis is not known, but genetic factors, infections of the gallbladder, liver and bile ducts, and certain conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, chronic pancreatitis and inflammatory bowel diseases, may lead to sclerosing cholangitis.
The symptoms of sclerosing cholangitis include fatigue, itching and yellowing of the skin and eyes. It may also lead to enlarged spleen and liver, reduced appetite, weight loss and repeated infection of the bile duct. Some people with sclerosing cholangitis may have no symptoms at all.
Sclerosing cholangitis can be diagnosis with blood tests and imaging tests such as CT scan, ultrasound, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTC) and magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP). Your doctor may also perform a liver biopsy to examine the liver.
Treatment may include medication in the initial stage. If the symptoms get worse, your doctor may recommend surgery and liver transplantation.