Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a rare disease, but its prevalence has been underestimated in children and adolescents due to broad variation in clinical presentation as well as diagnostic challenges in this life period.
To evaluate children and adolescents with primary sclerosing cholangitis and to describe their clinical, laboratorial, histopathological, and cholangiography conditions.
This is an observational descriptive research that took place from 2005 to 2016 and included all the patients seen in the Outpatient Unit for Pediatric Hepatology of Hospital das Clinicas of UFMG who had been diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis before the age of 18. Diagnosis was established through clinical, laboratory, radiographic and/or histopathologic criteria. Other chronic liver diseases were excluded, as well as secondary causes of cholangitis. Data analysis used statistic resources in SPSS software. Variables were expressed as averages, standard deviation, absolute frequency, and percentage.
Twenty-one patients fulfilled criteria to be included in the research sample. Male patients predominated (3.2:1) and average age at diagnosis was 6.7±3.9 years. Five (23.8%) patients had associated inflammatory bowel disease, four had ulcerative colitis and one indeterminate colitis. Signs and symptoms vary and are usually discrete at presentation. The most frequent symptom was abdominal pain (47.6%) followed less frequently by jaundice (28.6%) and itching (14.3%). The reason for medical investigation was asymptomatic or oligosymptomatic enzyme alterations in 33.3% of patients. All patients presented increased hepatic enzymes: aminotransferases, gamma glutamyl transferase, and alkaline phosphatase. Twenty patients had alterations compatible to primary sclerosing cholangitis in their cholangiography exam; one patient had no alterations at magnetic resonance cholangiography, but presented histopathologic alterations that were compatible to small duct cholangitis. Hepatic fibrosis was present in 60% of 15 patients who were biopsied upon admission; cirrhosis being present in four (26.7%) patients. A total of 28.5% of patients had unfavorable outcomes, including two (9.5%) deaths and four (19%) transplants.
Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a rare disease in childhood and adolescence and its initial diagnosis may be delayed or overlooked due to asymptomatic or unspecific clinical manifestations. The association with inflammatory bowel disease is common. Prognosis may be unfavorable as the disease progresses and hepatic transplant is the definitive treatment.
Sclerosing cholangitis; diagnosis; Child; Adolescent; Liver cirrhosis; Liver transplantation