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Sclerosing cholangitis is diagnosed using liver function tests, cholangiography and liver biopsy.
Tests used to diagnose sclerosing cholangitis are:
Liver function tests: Liver function tests are blood tests used to check if the liver is functioning properly. Certain enzymes like alkaline phosphatase and/or gamma - glutamyl transpeptidase are increased in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). However, their levels may be high in other liver conditions as well.
Cholangiography: Cholangiography is a procedure in which a dye is introduced into the bile ducts. The passage of the dye through the ducts is studied using x-rays or scans. Two types of cholangiography are used, endoscopic retrograde cholangiography and magnetic resonance cholangiography.
In endoscopic retrograde cholangiography, the doctor introduces a tube called an endoscope through the mouth until the bile duct opening in the small intestine. He then inserts a small plastic tube through the endoscope into the bile duct. He injects a dye into the bile ducts and takes x-rays to study any abnormalities in the bile ducts.
Magnetic resonance cholangiography is a comparatively simpler test and is preferred by many doctors.
Liver Biopsy: Biopsy of the liver may help in the diagnosis of sclerosing cholangitis.