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Secondary sclerosing cholangitis in critically ill patients: current perspectives

Authors Gudnason HO, Björnsson ES

Received 24 March 2017

Accepted for publication 26 May 2017

Published 23 June 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 105—111


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Andreas M Kaiser

Hafsteinn O Gudnason,1 Einar S Björnsson1,2

1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Landspitali, University Hospital of Iceland, 2Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland

Abstract: Secondary sclerosing cholangitis (SSC) is a term used for a group of chronic cholestatic disease affecting the intra- and/or extrahepatic biliary tree with inflammation and progressive stricture formation, which can lead to biliary cirrhosis. A newly recognized form of SSC is secondary sclerosing cholangitis in critically ill patients (SSC-CIP). Pathogenesis is believed to involve ischemic injury of intrahepatic bile ducts associated with prolonged hypotension, vasopressors administration, and/or mechanical ventilation in patients treated in the intensive care unit (ICU). Patients diagnosed with SSC-CIP have no prior history of liver disease and no known pathologic process or injury responsible for bile duct obstruction prior to ICU treatment. Reasons leading to ICU treatment are many including multitrauma, burn injury, cardiac surgery, severe pneumonia, other infections, or bleeding after abdominal surgery. Patients have in common prolonged ICU admission. SSC-CIP is associated with rapid progression to liver cirrhosis and poor survival with limited treatment options except a liver transplantation. Transplant-free survival is around 17–40 months, which is lower than in other SSC patients. During the initial stages of the disease, the clinical symptoms and biochemical profile are not specific and easily missed. Biliary casts formation may be considered pathognomonic for SSC-CIP since most patients have them in early stages of the disease. Increased awareness and early detection of the disease and its complications is considered to be crucial to improve the poor prognosis.

secondary sclerosing cholangitis, SSC-CIP, chronic cholestatic disease, sclerosing cholangitis

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