Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) refers to a chronic illness that is characterized by continuous lessons of cholestasis with fibrosis and inflammation of extrahepatic and intrahepatic bile ducts. The inflammation is believed to be caused by autoimmunity. Bile ducts are the ones that transport digestive liquid bile from the liver to the small intestines. With this disease, inflammation causes scars in the bile ducts. The scars make the ducts narrow and hard causing severe damage of the liver.
There are many healthcare facilities in the United States where patients and their loved ones can seek medical treatments for primary sclerosing cholangitis. However, travel is needed in order to reach these hospitals. Many insurance plans cover medical treatments but not travel costs. This means that proper plans have to be made in order to put traveling expenses at the minimum.
If you already know the healthcare facility that you want to go for primary sclerosing cholangitis treatment, consultation or second opinion, you can go ahead and plan your travel. Otherwise you should consult our list of healthcare facilities that offer treatments for PSC in the United States. If you are unable to foot your own travel expenses, you can check our directory of charitable organizations that help in arranging cost-free travel for medical treatments.
About Sclerosing Cholangitis
PSC progresses slowly. The disease can result in liver failure, tumors of the liver or bile ducts as well as repeated infections. The only known treatment for advanced primary sclerosing cholangitis is liver transplant. However, the disease may recur in the donated liver in a few patients.
The disease is usually diagnosed even before signs and symptoms manifest when the patient undergoes routine blood tests or when X-ray is done for unrelated illness and shows abnormalities in the liver. The early symptoms of the disease include the following;
Patients diagnosed with the disease before the onset of symptoms continue to feel well for a number of years. However, there is no way of telling how slowly or quickly the illness will progress in different individuals. As the disease progresses, the signs and symptoms that may occur include the following;
- Enlarged liver
- Enlarged spleen
- Night sweats
- Pain in the upper right part of the abdomen
- Weight loss
- Yellow eyes and skin (jaundice)
The causes of PSC are not clear. It is thought to be caused by the immune system reaction to a toxin or infection in the people that are predisposed to it genetically. Majority of PSC patients also suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases. In some instances, patients being treated for inflammatory diseases are diagnosed with PSC as well. However, the two conditions must not always appear together.
The complications associated with this disease include liver failures and liver diseases, repeated infections and portal hypertension (high blood pressure in the portal vein).
Where to Go for Sclerosing Cholangitis Treatment
There are many hospitals in the United States where patients and their families can go for sclerosing cholangitis treatments. These healthcare facilities are equipped with the best medical equipments, staffed with experienced medical professionals and supported by the best healthcare environments to offer comprehensive medical care. Among the best hospitals that offer sclerosing cholangitis treatment in United States include the following;
- Mayo Clinic
The clinic has assembled specialists in gastroenterology and hepatology, pathologists, pediatric specialists, oncologists, endoscopy specialists and surgeons who work together to offer all-inclusive healthcare to patients of all ages with primary sclerosing cholangitis.
If a transplant is deemed necessary, these professionals also work with transplant specialists and other professionals to offer a flawless patient experience in the Mayo Clinic Transplant Center. The hospital’s Hepatobiliary Clinic synchronizes healthcare with research.
Treatment of Sclerosing Cholangitis
In order to perform proper treatment of the disease, proper diagnosis must first be done. This is done through tests and procedures that include the following;
- Blood tests of liver function
- X-rays of the bile ducts
- MRI of bile ducts
Treatments of PSC center on management of resultant complications and monitoring damage of the liver. Researchers have studied many medications but there is none found to reverse or slow liver damage in people suffering from sclerosing cholangitis disease.
- Treatment for itching
- Bile acid sequestrants. These are medications that bind to bile acids. These acids are thought to be the ones responsible for itching in liver disease.
- Antibacterial drug can be prescribed to people who cannot tolerate bile acid medications.
- These can help in reducing itching. These can worden other symptoms like dry mouth and eyes but can help with falling asleep if itching prevents.
- Opioid antagonists. These medications act on the patient brain to prevent itching.
Treatment for Infections
- Antibiotics. Taking antibiotics for long periods.
- Antibiotics should also be taken before any procedure that may lead to infection such as abdominal surgery and endoscopic procedures.
- PSC makes it difficult for the digestive system to perform optimally, especially absorption of certain vitamins. This makes it difficult for the patient to get all the nutrients needed despite taking healthy diet.
- The doctor may advise the use of vitamin supplements. If the condition is affecting the bones, the patient may take vitamin D and calcium supplements as well.
Risks Associated with Sclerosing Cholangitis
There are several risks associated with this disease. These include the following;
- The disease can occur in individuals of any age. However, it is diagnosed mostly in individuals between the ages of 30 and 50 years.
- The disease is more common in males
- Geographical Orientation. Northern European heritage individuals have a higher risk of developing the disease.
- Inflammatory bowel disease. Majority of individuals with PSC have inflammatory bowel disease as well.
Who Can Go for Sclerosing Cholangitis
It is always important to have routine medical checkups in order to notice any medical issue at the very early stages. However, there are individuals that should go and see the doctor for sclerosing cholangitis diagnosis. These individuals include the following;
- Individuals experiencing serious unexplained itching on much of the body. This itching still remains regardless of how much you scratch.
- Those people who feel extremely exhausted every time, regardless of what they do.
- Those patients with crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. These are types of inflammatory bowel diseases. Many of PSC patients also have one of these diseases.