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Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

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Definition & Facts

Primary sclerosing cholangitis, or PSC, is a chronic disease in which the bile ducts inside and outside the liver become inflamed and scarred, and eventually narrowed or blocked. When this happens, bile builds up in the liver and causes liver damage.

Symptoms & Causes

The main symptoms of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) are feeling tired or weak and having itchy skin. Other symptoms may include losing weight without trying, poor appetite, fever, and pain in the abdomen. The cause of PSC is not known.


Doctors diagnose primary sclerosing cholangitis based on your medical and family history, a physical exam, and the results of medical tests, such as blood tests and imaging tests. Your doctor may perform a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.


Doctors can’t cure primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) or keep the disease from getting worse. They can treat narrowed or blocked bile ducts and the symptoms and complications of PSC, such as itchy skin, low vitamin levels, and bile duct infection.

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition

If you have primary sclerosing cholangitis, you should eat well-balanced meals that give you enough calories and nutrients. If you have low levels of fat-soluble vitamins, your doctor may recommend eating foods that are high in vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research into many diseases and conditions.

Related Diagnostic Tests

Related Research

Your Digestive System & How it Works

The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract-also called the digestive tract-and the liver, pancreas, and the gallbladder. The GI tract is a series of hollow organs joined in a long, twisting tube from the mouth to the anus.

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:
Keith D. Lindor, M.D., Arizona State University