PSC is short for Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, a chronic liver disease whereby the bile ducts, which are the passages that carry bile from the liver to the intestines, become narrowed from inflammation and fibrosis. Over time, the scar tissue builds up and can block parts of the bile ducts completely. The blockages can occur in any part of the biliary tree: inside the liver itself (intrahepatic) or outside the liver (extrahepatic).
The narrowed or blocked bile ducts interrupt the flow of bile out of the liver, causing a variety of symptoms; ultimately in some patients leading to biliary cirrhosis, portal hypertension, and liver failure. Common symptoms can include tiredness, generalised aching, pruritus (itching), pain in the upper right side of the abdomen, jaundice, chills and fevers. Many people with PSC are asymptomatic at the point of diagnosis, that is, don’t even show any outward symptoms to indicate they are living with a chronic illness. Not only that, but the progression of the disease is highly variable between patients: the speed of progression of PSC, severity and the number of symptoms cannot be predicted for the individual patient.