Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is an inflammatory disease of the bile ducts, leading to a host of symptoms and complications and, in later stages, liver failure. The cause of PSC is unknown, though research has linked several genetic and environmental risk factors. PSC is degenerative, resulting in progressive deterioration of the liver and bile ducts. Early detection, complication treatment and management, and long-term care are crucial to slowing the disease's progress and relieving symptoms.


1. The Role of the Bile Ducts

The bile ducts are part of the biliary system, a tract joining the liver to the duodenum, the first section of the small intestine. The liver produces bile, which travels to the duodenum along this tract and aids in the digestion of fats. Bile is also stored in the gallbladder and released during digestion.

liver bile ducts biliary system blueringmedia / Getty Images

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