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Primary biliary cirrhosis

  • Alternative Names



    Therapy aims to relieve symptoms and prevent complications.

    Cholestyramine (or colestipol) may reduce the itching. Ursodeoxycholic acid may improve removal of bile from the bloodstream and improves the survival of patients with PBC after they have taken it for 4 years.

    Vitamin replacement therapy restores vitamins A, K, and D, which are lost in fatty stools. A calcium supplement should be added to prevent or treat soft, weakened bones (osteomalacia).

    Liver transplant before liver failure occurs may be successful.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The outcome can vary. If the condition is not treated, most patients will need a liver transplant to prevent death from this condition. About a quarter of patients who've had the disease for 10 years will experience liver failure. Doctors can now use a statistical model to predict the best time to do the transplant.


    Progressive cirrhosis can lead to liver failure. Complications can include:

    • Bleeding
    • Damage to the brain (encephalopathy)
    • Fluid and electrolyte imbalance
    • Kidney failure
    • Malabsorption
    • Malnutrition
    • Soft bones (osteomalacia)

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have:

    • Abdominal swelling
    • Blood in the stools
    • Confusion
    • Jaundice
    • Itching of the skin that does not go away and is not related to other causes
    • Vomiting blood