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Primary biliary cirrhosis
DefinitionPrimary biliary cirrhosis is an inflammation (irritation and swelling with increased presence of immune cells) of the bile ducts of the liver resulting in narrowing and obstruction of the flow of bile . This obstruction damages liver cells.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The cause of inflamed bile ducts within the liver in this condition is not known. The disease more commonly affects middle-aged women. The onset of symptoms is gradual, most commonly with fatigue and itching skin as the first symptom.
Signs and tests
Tests that suggest or confirm the disease:
Tests that reveal liver dysfunction :
Therapy is aimed at symptomatic treatment and prevention of complications.
Expectations (prognosis)The course is variable, but if the condition is untreated, most patients will need a liver transplant after about seven years. Statistical models are now used to predict the best timing for transplantation.
ComplicationsProgressive cirrhosis can lead to liver failure, including bleeding, malnutrition, renal failure, fluid, and electrolyte imbalance and encephalopathy (damage to the brain). Osteodystrophy (a condition that softens the bones) and malabsorption may develop.
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if prolonged itching of the skin develops that is not related to other causes or if jaundice or other symptoms of cirrhosis develop.
Update Date: 4/25/2002Andrew J. Muir, M.D. M.H.S., Division of Gastroenterology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT