The European Association for the Study of the Liver has published a new guideline for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of primary biliary cholangitis.
PBC is likely in patients with persistent cholestatic symptoms or who have pruritis and fatigue. A diagnosis of PBC can be made if a patient has elevated alkaline phosphatase and antimitochondrial antibody, although elevated antimitochondrial antibody alone is not enough to diagnose PBC. Liver biopsy is not recommended, and liver imaging is not necessary to prove PBC but can be used to eliminate extrahepatic causes of cholestasis.
Pruritis, fatigue, and sicca complex are the most common symptoms of PBC and can significantly effect quality of life. Pruritis can be treated with cholestyramine or rifampicin. Clinicians should seek out and treat associated and alternate causes of fatigue and advise patients on strategies to avoid compounding fatigue problems. Sicca complex should be treated appropriately and, if patients develop refractory symptoms, referred to a specialist.
Complications of liver disease caused by PBC include osteoporosis, fat-soluble vitamin substitution, hyperlipidemia, varices, hepatocellular carcinoma, and need for liver transplant, though the need for liver transplant in PBC patient has decreased over time.
“Treatment guidelines facilitate a holistic life-long approach to the management of patients with PBC, and care pathways should be developed locally to capture the needs of patients. These can be subject to independent quality evaluation,” EASL concluded.
Find the full clinical guideline in the Journal of Hepatology (2017.).