What Is Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)?
PSC is a chronic disease in which your bile ducts and liver get inflamed and swollen.
Over time, the bile ducts harden and become blocked causing bile to build up in the liver. This causes liver damage and can even lead to liver failure.
Damage can occur quickly or over many years, and doctors can't reverse it. Your doctor will focus on slowing down liver damage for as long as possible.
PSC is a relatively rare disease.
About 1 in 10,000 people have PSC. Doctors diagnose this disease in about 1 in 100,000 people per year worldwide.
Primary sclerosing cholangitis causes
Doctors don't know exactly what causes PSC.
The disease likely comes from an unknown combination of genetics and environment. This means your genes may make you at risk of getting the disease.
PSC risk factors and complications
PSC affects at least twice as many men as women. Most people with this disease receive their diagnosis sometime between the ages of 30 and 50.
About 3 out of 4 people with PSC also have inflammatory bowel disease. This is most often ulcerative colitis, a severe inflammation of the intestines that causes ulcers and stomach pain.
People with PSC also:
- Are more likely to have an autoimmune disorder like type 1 diabetes. But the reason for this connection remains unclear.
- Have a greater risk for bile duct cancer.
- May develop osteoporosis, a thinning of the bones that leaves them prone to fractures. That's because, without adequate bile, the body can't digest fat-soluble vitamin D, which helps protect bones.
Left untreated, PSC can lead to liver failure.
How to prevent primary sclerosing cholangitis
Doctors can't currently prevent someone from getting PSC.
This might change in the future if they can decode the genetics of this disease.
Why choose UPMC's Center for Liver Diseases for primary sclerosing cholangitis care?
PSC is a serious chronic condition for which there is no cure. That means you will be dealing with the effects of this disease for decades.
UPMC's liver disease experts can help you slow the progression of your disease.
If your PSC leads to liver failure, you will need a liver transplant. Our experts partner closely with UPMC's world-renowned liver transplant. UPMC is 1 of the oldest and most skilled transplant centers in the country.
Also, UPMC is a national leader in living-donor liver transplants. By identifying a living donor, you may be able to receive a transplant sooner.