Metal, magnet or transplant: options in primary sclerosing cholangitis with stricture

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Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the biliary tree of unknown etiology leading to stricturing and dilation. There is currently no effective medical therapy for PSC and liver transplantation (LT) remains the ultimate treatment for severe disease defined as repeated episodes of cholangitis, decompensated biliary cirrhosis or in exceptional cases, cholangiocarcinoma (CCA). Patients often present with a “dominant” stricture and the therapeutic endoscopist plays an important role in management to improve biliary patency using a variety of techniques that involve sampling, balloon dilation and temporary stenting. Newer modalities such as self-expanding metal stents or magnetic compression anastomosis that have been used in other diseases may have a role to play in PSC but should remain investigational. Liver transplantation for PSC is curative in most cases but the optimal timing remains unclear. The lifetime risk of CCA is 10–15% in PSC patients and LT is often not possible at the time of diagnosis. Multiple studies have tried to identify risk factors and to diagnose CCA at an early stage when surgical resection may be possible or LT can be performed. However, deceased donor organs for LT remain in short supply throughout the world so even identifying PSC patients with CCA at an early stage may not be beneficial unless a live donor organ is available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-519
Number of pages10
JournalHepatology International
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Biliary stent
  • Biliary stricture
  • Cholangiocarcinoma
  • Liver transplantation
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis


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