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Liver » Primary Biliary Cholangitis

Primary Biliary Cholangitis- a Brief Introduction

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PBC is a chronic liver condition. This autoimmune disease makes the human body treat the bile ducts as alien things. It tries to destruct the bile duct linings. As a result, the outflow of bile from the liver to other organs suffers.


The bile acid begins leaking, damages the surrounding liver cells, cause inflammation and eventual scarring, thus rendering the liver inefficient.

The Cause of Primary Biliary Cholangitis

Medical researchers suspect a genetic hand behind PBC occurrences. However, it could be related to issues with the immune system (scleroderma, thyroid problems, or pernicious anaemia, for example.)

It has been clarified multiple times that PBC is not a hereditary disease. However, the connection between Primary Biliary Cholangitis and family links remains to be revealed entirely, as many cases of PBC mention a family member with the same condition (parents or siblings.)

PBC may be triggered by other factors like infections, smoking, or some particular chemical exposure.

What Are the Symptoms of PBC?

This liver disease is good at hiding itself. People can go on for years without noticing its presence. As it worsens, certain symptoms start showing up.

  • Skin yellowing or jaundice
  • Darkening skin
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Swelling of the ankles and feet
  • Pain in joints, bones, and muscles
  • Xanthomas or small white/yellow bumps beneath the skin
  • Xanthelasmas of small white/yellow bumps in the skin around the eyes
  • Ascites or fluid accumulation in the abdomen
  • Internal bleeding in the oesophagus  stomach
  • Varices
  • Osteoporosis or thinning of the bones
  • Early stage liver cancer
  • Fatigue
  • Dry eyes and mouth
  • Weight loss

How Is PBC Diagnosed?

The Antimitochondrial Antibody Blood Test is the most efficient way of diagnosing PBC with a 95% success rate. Along with AMA, doctors also demand tests for antinuclear antibodies, bilirubin, transaminases, anti-smooth muscle antibodies, and C-reactive proteins.

Further clarification of the diagnosis may require X-rays, MRI, CT scan, and ultrasound tests. A liver biopsy may also be ordered.

The Cure for PBC

There is no silver bullet to treat Primary Biliary Cholangitis. The treatment revolves around slowing down the damage to the liver, relieving the symptoms, and preventing further complications from rising.

Ursodiol, a natural bile acid, is prescribed to the patients of PBC. It helps by directing the bile from the liver to the small intestine. In cases where PBC has been detected early on, Ursodiol can contribute to reducing liver damage and thus push the need to transplant another liver.

A few patients can’t tolerate Ursodiol. In about 40% of PBC patients, this drug produces unfavourable results. Alternative therapies and medication are issued to such cases.

Doctors order frequent blood tests to stay updated on the complications that come along with PBC. Treating them on time can help improve the condition of the patient. Certain lifestyle changes (as follows) may also help.

  • Reduced sodium and fat intake
  • Increased water intake
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoiding stress, smoking, and alcohol

However, since this condition causes a gradual decline in liver efficiency, cirrhosis and liver transplantation are inevitable.

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