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Sclerosing Cholangitis: Treatment, Cost and Side Effects

What is the Sclerosing Cholangitis? How is the Sclerosing Cholangitis treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any side effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the Sclerosing Cholangitis?

Sclerosing cholangitis is a condition where the bile produced by the liver cannot travel to other parts of the digestive system and is trapped within the organ itself. When too much of the bile is stored inside the liver, it starts to harm the liver cells and also causes the formation of scar tissue. In chronic cases of the disease, the patient’s liver may be irreparable damaged. In such a case, a liver transplant may be needed.

The disease is more common in men, even though females may be affected by it as well. According to statistics, more than 70 percent of the people affected by the disorder are men. It can occur during any point of tijme in life, although the chances are greater in adulthood.

Some signs and symptoms of the disease include a yellow pigmentation in the skin and the eyes. Apart from this, itchiness and fatigue may also occur. However, it is easy to take these symptoms as signs of other diseases. As the condition deteriorates, the bile ducts may get infected. Chills and fever may also be caused along with pain in the belly.

How is the Sclerosing Cholangitis treatment done?

Sclerosing cholangitis can be detected through the test of a sample of the patient’s blood. The blood is screened for higher levels of enzymes in the blood. After the diagnosis, doctors will determine the best form of treatment. No drugs exist that can cure the condition and the research is still undergoing in this department. At the moment medication can be used to keep the symptoms in check.

In case of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, doctors may be able to assist in completely curing the condition. A surgery may be performed in a bid to remove the blockage in the bile ducts and clear out the way for it to move from the liver. This procedure is performed using an endoscope.

Any other form of condition, is incurable at the present time. The main goal for the treatment is to manage the symptoms and try to minimize the damage caused by the stored bile. Medications to help with the itching, infection and vitamin deficiencies may be prescribed to the patient, depending on the symptoms that he/she is experiencing.

If the damage to the liver is extensive, a transplant may be necessary to save the life of the patient. This is a costly procedure and can be difficult for many people to afford, but is considered to be the final effort.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

People suffering severe symptoms related to the disease, can seek treatment for the same. Even if the treatment is started, there is no cure for the condition and the medication will only provide relief to some of the symptoms related to the disorder.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

People who may suffering very mild symptoms of the disorder, can do without any treatment. Treatment is only reserved for people whose conditions may be deteriorating. If the liver remains undamaged due to the bile storage, doctors may decide not to prescribe any medications for the condition.

Are there any side effects?

Usually antibiotics, bile acid sequestrants, antihistamines and opioid antagonists are used for the treating the condition. Some of these drugs can cause side effects, although chances of that happening is minimal. For instance, the bile acid sequestrants can lead to gastrointestinal tract disorder. These disorders may range from constipation, bloating, diarrhea and flatulence.

Similarly, some antibiotics may lead to watery diarrhea, rash, vaginal itching, allergic reaction and some other issues. If you experience any of these conditions, report the same to the doctor and the medication may be changed, accordingly.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

The treatment lasts for the entirety of the patient’s life or till the time that the patient undergoes successful liver transplant. At any rate, there are no guidelines to follow as such apart from incorporating some lifestyle changes, which can greatly help to deal with the situation. Smoking and drinking should be stopped, as these habits can speed up the deterioration of the patient’s liver. Other dietary changes must also be followed.

How long does it take to recover?

Recovery may take several years, but it depends on the severity of the disease. If the disorder causes liver failure, a transplant is necessary to save the patient’s life. However, if a suitable donor cannot be found at such a time, the condition can be fatal. For people with the disease, but not liver failure, there is no cure. In such cases, the symptoms can only be managed using medications and lifestyle changes.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The price of treatment depends on the kind of treatment required fro the patient. If the patient needs support in the form of medication only, the cost may be limited to Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 10,000. However, if the patient requires a liver transplant surgery, the cost may increase substantially. In such a case, the operative costs alone may be around Rs. 1 Lakh to Rs. 5 Lakh.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Treatment does not cure the condition, but mainly looks to control the symptoms. So, a patient on medication will feel the effects of the medicines till the time they stop consuming it. If the medication is stopped mid-way, the symptoms may recur and the discomfort may be repeated. However, if the condition is cured through a liver transplant, there is very little chance of the disease recurring on the new liver.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are no alternative remedies for the condition. People affected by the disorder should instead try to lead a healthier life. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, avoiding alcohol and cigarettes are some of the easiest ways of limiting the intensity of the symptoms.

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