Current Treatment Options in Gastroenterology

, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp 493–498 | Cite as

Management of primary biliary cirrhosis

  • Cynthia Levy
  • Keith D. Lindor

Opinion statement

Primary biliary cirrhosis is a chronic, progressive disease for which there is no definitive treatment. Ursodeoxycholic acid, however, is of benefit for delaying progression to irreversible end-stage liver disease and prolonging survival free of transplantation. It is, therefore, the standard medical therapy for primary biliary cirrhosis. Orthotopic liver transplantation can be offered for patients with end-stage disease. Other important endpoints of treatment in this condition include management of the long-term complications of cholestasis such as pruritus, osteoporosis, and fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies. Pruritus is best treated with cholestyramine; rifampicin, antihistaminics, opioid-antagonists, and ondansetron can also be tried. Osteoporosis should be treated with calcium and vitamin D supplementation. Bisphosphonates or vitamin K2 may be of additional benefit to decrease the risk of fractures, but this is unproved as of yet. Deficiencies of vitamins A, D, E, and K should be treated with appropriate replacement. Finally, orthotopic liver transplant is indicated for cases of liver failure, intractable pruritus, or severe osteoporosis.


Bone Mineral Density Bile Acid Primary Biliary Cirrhosis Naltrexone Orthotopic Liver Transplantation 
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Copyright information

© Current Science Inc 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cynthia Levy
    • 1
  • Keith D. Lindor
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Gastroenterology and HepatologyMayo Clinic RochesterRochesterUSA

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