Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a chronic liver disease that causes slow, progressive destruction of bile ducts in the liver. This destruction interferes with the excretion of bile.
- Many patients have no symptoms of disease and are diagnosed by finding an abnormality on routine liver blood tests. Itching and fatigue are common symptoms.
- Other signs include jaundice, cholesterol deposits in the skin, fluid accumulation in the ankles and abdomen, and darkening of the skin. Several other disorders are often associated with PBC.
- The most common is impaired functioning of the tear and salivary glands, causing dry eyes or mouth. Arthritis and thyroid problems may also be present. Renal stones and gallstones may develop.
- Bone softening and fragility leading to fractures can occur in late stages of the disease.