The Natural History of Abdominal Pain Associated with Primary Biliary Cirrhosis

J. M. Laurin, C. K. DeSotel, R. A. Jorgensen, E. R. Dickson, K. D. Lindor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Objeetives: The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence and natural history of abdominal pain in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis. Methods: We studied 178 patients with well‐defined primary biliary cirrhosis enrolled in a prospective randomized trial of ursodeoxycholic acid. These patients underwent upper endoscopy and upper abdominal ultrasound prior to entry, at 2 yr, and as indicated. Fourteen patients had additional evaluations including abdominal CT (four), colon x‐ray (five), colonoscopy (three), endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (two), and upper gastrointestinal x‐ray (two). Resutts: Patients with abdominal pain generally presented with right upper quadrant discomfort. Thirty‐one patients (17%) had pain at study entry: 33% of these had pain persisting at 1 yr, and 20% of these had pain persisting at 2 yr. The resolution of pain was not clearly affected by ursodeoxycholic acid. Evaluation with ultrasound and upper endoscopy found four patients with asymptomatic cholelithiasis, one with esophageal erosions, four with gastric erosions, one with a gastric ulcer, and two with duodenal erosions. Additional tests were unrevealing in 14 patients. Patients with pain were similar to patients without pain with regard to age, histological stage, gender, and liver biochemistries. Conclusions: We conclude that chronic right upper quadrant pain is not uncommon in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis, that it usually resolves spontaneously, and that upper endoscopy is the most important diagnostic test to use to exclude treatable causes of pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1840-1843
Number of pages4
JournalThe American Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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