Robert J. Fingerote, MD, MSc, FRCPC, Consultant in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine, Queensway Carlton Hospital, Ottawa, ON.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a disease of unknown origin that causes chronic liver injury. It has an insidious onset, is associated with slow progression and ultimately leads to liver failure and either death or liver transplantation. It is presumed to be of autoimmune origin, is frequently associated with other autoimmune disorders and typically affects middle-aged and elderly women. Patients may be asymptomatic at diagnosis or present with typical symptoms of fatigue, pruritus and jaundice. Although current therapy may slow the progression of disease, no therapy has yet been proven to arrest or reverse the disease process.
Key words: cirrhosis, fatigue, autoimmune, cholestasis, antimitochondrial antibodies.
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