Mercy's Dr. Anurag Maheshwari Explains Importance of Early Detection for Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC)
A rare and chronic disorder known as primary biliary cholangitis, or PBC, impacts more women than men. There is no clear cause or cure, but detecting it early, can make a big difference.
The day that Lisa Shanahan said her life was saved was the day her son donated a portion of his liver.
"My son was a match for me. He was only 19 at the time, and it’s been amazing. He helped me," Shanahan said.
He saved her. Shanahan has PBC, which is a rare autoimmune disease.
"The target organ of damage is the lining of the bile ducts where it causes damage to these bile ducts, causing eventual destruction," explained Dr. Anurag Maheshwari, a liver disease specialist with The Center for Liver and Hepatobiliary Diseases, part of The Melissa L. Posner Institute for Digestive Health & Liver Disease at Mercy in Baltimore, MD.
That can lead to scarring, which can eventually cause cirrhosis. That's why Dr. Maheshwari said early diagnosis is so important.
"We can help patients with PCB, particularly those diagnosed in early stages, so that's the other educational piece out there," Dr. Maheshwari said.
The problem is that patients with PBC have few signs.
In the early stages, there are fatigue, also itchiness, and jaundice.
Shanahan experienced all of that.
"My eyes got yellow before anything else, and they got so yellow. Then, my skin started turning yellow," Shanahan said.
But by that time, her liver was in rough shape. Since the transplant, Shanahan said her health has been much better.
She's now involved in a support group called the PBCers. Since so many more women than men get the disease, she said she hopes to pass along an important message: Don't dismiss your symptoms.
"A woman knows her body. She knows what's going on, and if something is not right and your doctor says it’s in your head, see another doctor," Shanahan said.
An early diagnosis can make all the difference in the world.
View Mercy liver health specialist Dr. Anurag Maheshwari’s interview regarding women and PBC.
Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on Facebook, Twitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.