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Causes of Biliary Cirrhosis

Each of the two types of biliary cirrhosis -- primary biliary cirrhosis and secondary biliary cirrhosis -- has a different cause. The cause of primary biliary cirrhosis is unknown. Secondary biliary cirrhosis, however, is caused by an obstruction of the large bile ducts outside of the liver (known as the common bile duct). A few of the conditions that can cause the common bile duct, or its major braches, to become obstructed include gallstones, cystic fibrosis, and chronic pancreatitis.

What Causes Biliary Cirrhosis?

There are two types of biliary cirrhosis -- primary biliary cirrhosis and secondary biliary cirrhosis. Each type has a different cause.
 

Cause of Primary Biliary Cirrhosis

Primary biliary cirrhosis is a liver disease that slowly destroys the bile ducts in the liver. When the ducts are damaged, bile builds up in the liver and damages the liver tissue. Over time, the primary biliary cirrhosis can progress and even make the liver stop working.
 
The cause of primary biliary cirrhosis is unknown. The disease affects women more often than men, and usually occurs between the ages of 30 years and 60 years.
 
Some research suggests that primary biliary cirrhosis might be caused by a problem within the immune system. This is because primary biliary cirrhosis is often associated with other diseases known to be autoimmune in nature, including:
 
  • The CRST syndrome (calcinosis, Raynaud's syndrome, sclerodactyly, telangiectasia)
  • Sicca syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Renal tubular acidosis.
     

Secondary Biliary Cirrhosis Causes

Secondary biliary cirrhosis is a condition that develops because of long-term partial or total obstruction of the large bile ducts outside of the liver (known as the common bile duct and its major branches). In cases of secondary biliary cirrhosis, causes may include:
 
  • Narrowing (strictures) of the bile duct following gallbladder surgery
  • Gallstones
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Pericholangitis
  • Idiopathic sclerosing cholangitis
  • Congenital biliary atresia
  • Cystic fibrosis.
     
All of these conditions can cause secondary biliary cirrhosis because they cause long-term partial or complete obstruction of the common bile duct or its major branches.
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Biliary Cirrhosis

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