Background and aims: Information about the natural history of small duct primary sclerosing cholangitis (SDPSC) remains scant despite literature suggesting that it constitutes 6-16% of all cases of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). We combined clinical data on SDPSC cases from two tertiary care institutions with liver transplantation programs with the aim of studying the natural history of SDPSC. Methods: Medical records of 25 individuals with SDPSC were reviewed. Diagnosis of SDPSC was based on liver biopsy findings consistent with PSC, a normal cholangiogram, and elimination of known causes of secondary sclerosing cholangitis. Demographic information, symptoms, past medical history, laboratory values, and histologic data were evaluated. Our primary outcome measure was liver transplantation or death. Secondary outcome measures included evidence of end-stage liver disease, development of cholangiocarcinoma, and/or the development of classic PSC on a repeat cholangiogram. Results: Data on 25 individuals (13 males, 12 females; mean age 40 ± 15 years) diagnosed with SDPSC were analyzed. Upon presentation, 11 patients had symptoms including abdominal pain, fatigue, and pruritus. Inflammatory bowel disease was present in 14 patients (56%) at diagnosis. On initial liver biopsy, 60% had early-stage disease (I or II) and none had cirrhosis. On follow-up (1-168 months, median 17 months), malignancy or progression to classic large duct PSC was not noted. Two (8%) patients had evidence of varices and one of the two also developed ascites; one of these patients underwent liver transplantation and the other one died due to sepsis. Conclusions: SDPSC, a mild disease at presentation typically runs a benign course and likely is not an early stage of classic PSC. Further studies with a control group of classic PSC and longer follow-up are needed to study the natural history of SDPSC.
- Cholestatic liver disease
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
- Small duct primary sclerosing cholangitis