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Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis is a Disease that Can Ultimately Lead to a Liver Transplant

Husband and wife riding bicyclePrimary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a disease of the bile ducts, which carries a digestive liquid called bile from the liver to the small intestine. The disease is characterized by inflammation and scarring (fibrosis) within the bile ducts. This scarring causes the ducts to harden and narrow, which can slow down or prevent the flow of bile. The condition progresses gradually over time, and can often lead to liver failure, recurring liver infections, and tumors in the liver or bile ducts.

Patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis tend to be asymptomatic in the early stages of the disease, but over time they may experience a variety of symptoms as the disease progresses. Symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Enlargement of the liver
  • Pain in the upper-right portion of the abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)

The cause or causes of primary sclerosing cholangitis are currently unknown, but it is believed that patients who are diagnosed with the condition may have a genetic predisposition to the disease. Treatments for this disease are directed at managing symptoms and complications as well as monitoring the presence and progression of liver damage. The only known treatment that can cure this disease is a liver transplant.

Tampa General Hospital’s Liver Transplant Program treats adult patients with PSC and other serious liver transplant conditions. Every potential transplant candidate is first recommended to us by a physician, who must submit a completed patient liver transplant referral form. Using the data from this form, as well as other information, our transplant team will determine if a liver transplant is an appropriate treatment option for a patient at the given time.

To learn more about Tampa General Hospital’s transplant selection criteria for patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis or other liver diseases, please call us at 1-800-505-7769 (press 4 for the liver transplant program and ask for the referral coordinator), or contact the referral coordinator directly at (813) 844-8686.