Liver transplantation for primary sclerosing cholangitis: Timing, outcome, impact of inflammatory bowel disease and recurrence of disease

Russell H. Wiesner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Over the past decade, the outcome of liver transplantation in primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) patients with end-stage liver disease has improved significantly with many centres reporting 1-year patient and graft survival of 90-97% and 85-88%, respectively. Based on these results, liver transplantation has emerged as the treatment of choice for PSC patients. Specific complications related to PSC remain problematical. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) occurs in 70% of patients, and there is a distinctly increased risk of colorectal neoplasia both pre- and post-transplantation. Furthermore, symptoms related to IBD post-transplantation can become severe and lead to the need for proctocolectomy. Cholangiocarcinoma remains a major risk facing the PSC patient and develops in 15-30% of patients. Markers to detect the early neoplastic changes of cholangiocarcinoma are not available. To date, outcome following liver transplantation in PSC patients who have associated cholangiocarcinoma has been dismal. However, those patients who are found to have an incidental cholangiocarcinoma have an acceptable low incidence of recurrence of disease. To assess optimal timing of liver transplantation, natural history risk scores have been developed and utilized. Utilizing such risk scores, estimated survival for the individual PSC patient can be obtained. Finally, there is an increased incidence of both acute and chronic rejection, hepatic artery thrombosis and biliary stricturing in PSC patients undergoing liver transplantation. A late rise in serum alkaline phosphatase level is almost always indicative of biliary stricturing and recurrence of disease. Approximately 20% of patients followed for 5 years or more will have recurrence of PSC documented both on cholangiography and histology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-680
Number of pages14
JournalBest Practice and Research: Clinical Gastroenterology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Cholangiocarcinoma
  • Chronic ulcerative colitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Liver transplantation
  • PSC recurrence
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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