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October 1981

Phototherapy for Primary Biliary Cirrhosis

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

Arch Dermatol. 1981;117(10):608. doi:10.1001/archderm.1981.01650100008016

To the Editor.—  Primary biliary cirrhosis (chronic nonsuppurative destructive cholangitis, with chronic obstruction of the small hepatic ducts) is an uncommon hepatic disease of poor prognosis usually found in the 40- to 60-year-old woman.The most distressing symptom of primary biliary cirrhosis is generalized pruritus. The degree of pruritus was formerly thought to be directly related to the accumulation of bile acid salts in the serum and tissues.1 This may be questioned since phototherapy relieves the pruritus in early primary biliary cirrhosis and since bile acid salts are not photosensitive compounds.Jaundice, the other manifesting symptom of primary biliary cirrhosis, is caused by the accumulation of the bile pigment bilirubin in the blood and skin.The patients referred to me had already been receiving routine therapy for the pruritus and jaundice, without success. This therapy included oral administration of cholestyramine resin, vitamin K, calcium lactate, fat soluble vitamins, methyltestosterone,

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