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Primary Biliary Cirrhosis Treatment

Medications to Treat Primary Biliary Cirrhosis

Your healthcare provider may recommend treating primary biliary cirrhosis with the medicine ursodiol (Actigall®, Urso®). Ursodiol has been shown to increase survival if started early in the course of the disease. It does not seem to have an effect if serious liver damage has already occurred. Ursodiol also does not help with fatigue.
Cholestyramine (Questran®, Questran® Light, Prevalite®, LoCholest®) is another medicine that may be recommended. Cholestyramine is a bile acid sequestrant that has been shown to help with itching and high cholesterol.

Treatment for Primary Biliary Cirrhosis Complications

Primary biliary cirrhosis treatment will also include remedies for complications. For example, for ascites (fluid in the abdomen) and edema (swelling in the feet and legs), the healthcare provider may recommend a low-sodium diet or the use of diuretics, which are drugs that remove fluid from the body.
Protein causes toxins to form in the digestive tract, so eating less protein will help decrease the buildup of toxins in the blood and brain. The doctor may also prescribe laxatives to help absorb the toxins and remove them from the intestines.
For portal hypertension, the doctor may prescribe a blood pressure medication such as a beta blocker. If varices bleed, the doctor may either inject them with a clotting agent or perform what is called a rubber-band ligation, which uses a special device to compress the varices and stop the bleeding.

Liver Transplantation to Treat Primary Biliary Cirrhosis

When primary biliary cirrhosis complications cannot be controlled or when the liver becomes so damaged from scarring that it completely stops functioning, a liver transplant is necessary. In liver transplantation surgery, a diseased liver is removed and is replaced with a healthy one from an organ donor. About 80 percent to 90 percent of patients survive liver transplantation.
Survival rates have improved over the past several years because of drugs such as cyclosporine (Gengraf®, Neoral®, Sandimmune®) and tacrolimus (Prograf®), which suppress the immune system and keep it from attacking and damaging the new liver.
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