Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (cont.)
Dennis Lee, MD
Dennis Lee, MD
Dr. Lee was born in Shanghai, China, and received his college and medical training in the United States. He is fluent in English and three Chinese dialects. He graduated with chemistry departmental honors from Harvey Mudd College. He was appointed president of AOA society at UCLA School of Medicine. He underwent internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
In this Article
What are the symptoms of primary sclerosing cholangitis?
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Most patients with early primary sclerosing cholangitis have no symptoms, and the presence of primary sclerosing cholangitis is recognized only because of abnormally elevated blood levels of liver enzymes (particularly alkaline phosphatase levels) that often are performed along with a routine physical examination.
Early symptoms of primary sclerosing cholangitis include fatigue and bodily itching (pruritus). As the disease progresses, patients may develop jaundice (yellowing of skin and darkening of urine). Jaundice is due to the accumulation of bilirubin in the body. The bilirubin accumulates because it is not able to be eliminated in the bile due to prolonged obstruction of the bile ducts. The accumulation of bilirubin turns the skin and whites of the eye (sclera) yellow. The reason for the pruritus is not entirely known. It may be due to accumulation of bile salts in the body, also as a result of obstruction of the bile ducts.
As primary sclerosing cholangitis progresses, patients typically develop right upper abdominal pain, fever, fatigue, pruritus, and jaundice. These patients also are at risk of developing primary sclerosing cholangitis complications.
The patients with the autoimmune form of primary sclerosing cholangitis have more rapid and early onset of symptoms of abdominal pain, jaundice and fever than the majority of patients with the more indolent form of primary sclerosing cholangitis.
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