Background & Aims: Data on the management of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) in European expert centres are sparse. In this study, a PSC group from the ERN RARE-LIVER surveyed European hepatologists to uncover differences in real-life clinical practices. Methods: In April 2020 a survey questionnaire was sent to members of the International PSC Study Group and ERN RARE-LIVER. Participants were asked about the size of their PSC cohort, use of medical treatments including ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) and surveillance for cholangiocarcinoma, gallbladder polyps and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Data were presented descriptively. Results: Eighty-two of 278 members responded. Fifty percent of physicians prescribed UDCA routinely to all their patients with PSC, whereas 12% never prescribed UDCA. UDCA was used for one or more indications including: alkaline phosphatase >1.5x the upper limit of normal, severe PSC changes, pruritus, PSC-IBD or patient demand. Few physicians offered other medical treatments than UDCA. The use of medical treatments was generally comparable in small (<99 patients) and large (≥99 patients) cohorts, as well as for adult and paediatric physicians. Most physicians routinely screened for cholangiocarcinoma and the most frequent modalities used were MRI and ultrasound. At detection of a gallbladder polyp of 6 mm, 46% of physicians recommended repeated ultrasound after 3-6 months, whereas 44% of physicians recommended immediate cholecystectomy. In patients with PSC without IBD at PSC diagnosis, 68% of physicians repeated colonoscopy within 3-5 years whereas 27% referred only patients who developed symptoms of IBD. Conclusion: Substantial variations in treatment and monitoring of European patients with PSC were discovered. Harmonisation of strategies is desirable to enable improved interpretation of outcome data and to optimise clinical patient care. Lay summary: In this study, we explored how different centres in Europe manage primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare inflammatory disease of the bile ducts. We collected information through a questionnaire sent to specialist physicians who were part of a European network for rare liver diseases. We found several differences in how patients with PSC were monitored and treated. This includes differences in surveillance for bile duct cancer, gallbladder polyps and inflammatory bowel disease. By pointing out these differences, we hope that management of PSC will be standardized, which could aid clinical research and benefit patients.
- gallbladder polyp
- inflammatory bowel disease
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis