Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

At the Henry Ford Liver Disease Center, we have extensive experience treating rare conditions like primary sclerosing cholangitis and its associated complications. Our multidisciplinary team is dedicated to providing the comprehensive care and support you need through treatment and beyond.

What is primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC)?

Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a condition produced by inflammation and scarring of the bile ducts, the tubes that carry digestive fluid from your liver to your small intestine. As they scar, the bile ducts narrow and harden. PSC progresses slowly, often over years, and can lead to liver failure, and in some cases, bile duct cancer.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) causes and risk factors

Researchers don’t yet know what causes primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). However, PSC risk factors include:

  • A history of inflammatory bowel disease: Includes ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Age: PSC usually appears in young adults but may develop at any age
  • Gender: PSC is more common in men than women

Symptoms of primary sclerosing cholangitis

Symptoms of advanced primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) may include:

  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Itchiness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Enlarged liver
  • Weight loss
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

How is primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) diagnosed?

Primary sclerosing cholangitis can be diagnosed before symptoms appear through blood and imaging tests. At Henry Ford, we offer comprehensive, advanced diagnostic tests. We work hard to choose the least invasive, most effective options for you. Our PSC diagnostic tests include:

  • Liver function tests: Blood tests that check how well you liver functions
  • MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography): A diagnostic tool that creates detailed images of the liver and bile ducts using magnetic field and radio waves
  • ERCP (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography): A minimally invasive procedure where your physician puts an endoscope (a thin, lighted tube) down your throat and uses contrast dye and X -ray imaging to view your bile ducts. Learn more about endoscopy at Henry Ford Liver Disease Center.
  • Liver biopsy: A procedure that removes a liver tissue sample for analysis

Learn more about advanced diagnostic techniques and diagnosis at Henry Ford Hospital.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) treatments at Henry Ford

We offer the full range of treatments for primary sclerosing cholangitis and its associated conditions, including ulcerative colitis and thyroid and bone diseases. As a major referral center for patients with PSC, we have the expertise required to provide comprehensive, personalized care in even the most complex situations. Our treatments include:

  • Medications to reduce symptoms
  • Antibiotics to treat infections that result from blocked bile ducts
  • Endoscopy: We offer advanced, minimally invasive endoscopic procedures like ERCP. This year, our experienced gastroenterologists are on target to perform the most ERCPs in the region. They’re on-call 24 hours a day/365 days a year to handle emergency blockages.
  • Liver transplant: As one of the premier liver transplant programs in the country, our patients can count on shorter waits for donor livers and the highest one- and three-year patient survival rates in Michigan. Our transplant team includes skilled gastroenterologists who specialize in bile duct complications before and after transplantation using ERCP.
  • Research & clinical trials: We offer promising treatment options unavailable anywhere else.

Learn more about our liver disease treatments at Henry Ford.

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