How do primary biliary cirrhosis and primary biliary cholangitis differ?

Primary biliary cholangitis was, in the past, commonly referred to as primary biliary cirrhosis. The current designation more accurately describes the disease process, wherein the bile ducts are gradually destroyed.
Primary biliary cirrhosis and primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) are the same condition. Experts changed the name in 2015 because they felt it was inaccurate and could lead to unnecessary stigma. The original name containing “cirrhosis” dates back to the 1800s. Over time, as doctors learned more about the causes and course of the disease, and as they found better treatments, they realized the name wasn’t a good description. Cirrhosis is severe scarring of the liver that interferes with its function. PBC does cause progressive liver damage, but most people with the condition today never develop cirrhosis.
Patient advocacy groups led the effort to change the name. They pointed out that people with PBC can suffer from stigma—which sometimes led to discrimination in job or insurance applications—due to confusion with alcohol-related cirrhosis. The new “cholangitis” name was chosen to avoid those problems.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.