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Primary Biliary Cholangitis (Primary Biliary Cirrhosis)

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Definition & Facts

Primary biliary cholangitis is a chronic disease in which the small bile ducts in the liver become injured and inflamed and are eventually destroyed. When there are no bile ducts, bile builds up and causes liver damage.

Symptoms & Causes

Common early symptoms of primary biliary cholangitis are feeling tired and itchy skin. As the disease gets worse, you may have more symptoms. Although the exact cause of the disease is unknown, the immune system and environmental triggers may play a role.


Doctors diagnose primary biliary cholangitis based on your medical and family history, a physical exam, and the results of medical tests. Medical tests to diagnose primary biliary cholangitis may include blood tests, imaging tests, and liver biopsy.


Doctors treat primary biliary cholangitis with medicines. Doctors may treat the symptoms and complications of the disease with medicines, dietary supplements, changes in diet and lifestyle, and medical procedures.

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition

A healthy, well-balanced diet is important in all stages of primary biliary cholangitis. Your doctor can recommend a healthy eating plan that provides enough calories and nutrients to help your liver work properly and manage complications. You should stop drinking alcohol.

Related Diagnostic Tests

Related Research

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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
John Moore Vierling, M.D., Baylor College of Medicine