Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC)

Definition & Symptoms

Primary biliary cirrhosis is an autoimmune condition that affects the bile ducts in your liver. Bile ducts carry digestive enzymes from the liver and gall bladder to the small intestine. As the bile ducts become damaged, over time the buildup of harmful material can lead to liver damage, and ultimately liver cirrhosis.

Risk factors

Risk factors include middle aged people, women, and having a family member with the disease.

Diagnostics

Patients with PBC need lifetime monitoring of life function and symptomatic treatment. Blood work, ultrasounds, and MRIs, and endoscopy are all part of the diagnostic work up of PBC.

Treatment

Ursodeoxycholic acid may be helpful treatment for PBC patients. Symptomatic treatment is available for PBC to control complications including portal hypertension, ascites, esophageal varices, and bleeding abnormalities. At times endoscopic evaluation is necessary to open blockages or screen for cancer. Ultimately many patients with severe, end stage PBC may need a liver transplant.

More patient friendly information can be found through the Liver Foundation at this web address: http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/pbc/

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