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July 1994

Primary Sclerosing CholangitisRequiem for Biliary Drainage Operations?

Author Affiliations

From the Gastrointestinal Clinic and Medical Research Council/University of Cape Town Liver Research Centre and Departments of Medicine (Drs Lemmer, Wright, Kirsch, and Robson), Surgery (Drs Bornman, Krige, Kahn, and Terblanche), Radiology (Dr Beningfield), and Anatomical Pathology (Dr Jaskiewicz), Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town (South Africa).

Arch Surg. 1994;129(7):723-728. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1994.01420310055009

Objective:  To review the outcome of a consecutive number of patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) treated at one institution to define prognostic variables and determine the influence of surgery on outcome.

Design:  Case series of patients with PSC seen in Cape Town, South Africa, between 1981 and 1991.

Setting:  Tertiary referral center.

Patients:  Thirty-six patients with PSC were studied. Diagnosis was based on cholangiographic findings of multiple strictures of the bile ducts together with compatible clinical and biochemical features. Thirty-two patients were followed up prospectively for up to 9 years.

Main Outcome Measures:  Patient outcome was defined as good (stable or slowly progressive disease) or poor (death or liver transplantation).

Results:  During the follow-up period, seven patients with PSC died and two underwent liver transplantation. Actuarial survival at 5 years was 52%. An increased serum bilirubin concentration was the only variable at presentation that independently predicted a poor outcome. Cholangiography was unhelpful in predicting patient outcome. Six patients who developed obstructive jaundice associated with advanced liver disease underwent biliary drainage operations for surgically correctable strictures, but this did not seem to prevent progression of the disease. Two patients who progressed to end-stage liver disease went on to have liver transplantation and were alive with functioning grafts at 7 and 14 months, respectively.

Conclusions:  Symptomatic PSC is a progressive disorder with a poor prognosis. Our experience suggests that patients with advanced liver disease caused by PSC should be considered directly for liver transplantation rather than biliary bypass operations.(Arch Surg. 1994;129:723-728)