Secondary Biliary Cirrhosis – Diagnosis and Treatment

Secondary biliary cirrhosis (SBC)

is a pathological condition of large bile ducts outside the liver. There is partial or total obstruction of common bile duct and its major branches in this disease. As everyone knows, any obstruction can only lead to progressive adverse situation. In this disease too, the bile gets built up in the ducts and eventually leads to damage of liver tissue.

There is another form of biliary cirrhosis called

primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC).

In PBC, small ducts with in the liver are obstructed. Although both are biliary cirrhosis, there is a gulf of difference between the two in terms of the conditions that causes SBC and PBC. In this article, we discuss how SBC is diagnosed and treated.

Diagnosis of SBC:

The first step in diagnosis of SBC is medical history. The doctor begins the diagnosis by asking a number of questions about medical and family history, inquiring about:

  • Symptoms
  • Any surgeries, such as gallbladder surgery
  • Current medications
  • Current medical conditions, including gallstones
  • Alcohol use or drug use
  • Any oversees travel history
  • Family history of medical conditions

The doctor may recommend certain laboratory tests such as alkaline phosphatase

blood test

and anti-mitochondrial antibody (AMA) blood test. X-rays, ultrasound and CT Scan are done to see the extent of blockage.

Liver biopsy

is used to see the extent of liver damage. The health care practitioner performs this by inserting a needle between the ribs or into a vein in the neck.

Treatment for SBC:

Aim of the treatment is to unblock the obstruction.


or a procedure known as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is recommended. After the surgery,symptoms are observed to see the improvement in diseased symptoms.

In certain conditions where the obstruction cannot be relieved, antibiotics are recommended to give symptomatic relief; however, the disease will continue to progress.

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