PBC — Primary Biliary Cholangitis

Primary biliary cholangitis is a chronic health condition that occurs when your bile ducts are destroyed over time. Bile is a fluid in the liver that helps to digest food and rid the body of cholesterol, toxins, and old red blood cells. Damage from primary biliary cholangitis causes bile to back up in the liver, eventually resulting in scarring to the liver. This scarring is often called cirrhosis.

Primary biliary cholangitis is classified as an autoimmune disease, meaning it develops when the body’s immune system inadvertently attacks healthy cells. The condition is typically slow to develop.

What causes primary biliary cholangitis?

Primary biliary cholangitis develops when white blood cells begin to attack healthy cells within the bile duct in the liver. This leads to inflammation in the smallest bile ducts, which eventually spreads to other parts of the liver and causes scarring or cirrhosis, making it difficult for the liver to function normally. Primary biliary cholangitis is more common among women than men, and people who have a family member with the condition are also at greater risk. Experts believe that a combination of genetics and environmental factors, such as smoking, infections, and exposure to toxic chemicals, causes primary biliary cholangitis.

Is primary biliary cholangitis serious?

Primary biliary cholangitis can lead to multiple complications. For instance, it can cause cirrhosis or liver scarring, which makes it difficult for your liver to work properly and can eventually lead to liver failure. It can also lead to increased pressure in an important blood vessel called the portal vein. Other complications of primary biliary cholangitis include an enlarged spleen, gallstones, weak bones, vitamin deficiencies, and increased risk of other diseases like thyroid problems and rheumatoid arthritis. It can also lead to problems with memory, and some people may even develop liver cancer with primary biliary cholangitis. In addition, backed up blood from primary biliary cholangitis can cause increased pressure in veins, which may result in them breaking open and bleeding. When bleeding occurs in the stomach or esophagus, it is life-threatening and requires immediate medical care.

How is primary biliary cholangitis treated?

Primary biliary cholangitis cannot be cured, but there are medications that can slow disease progression and reduce the risk of complications. For example, a type of medication called ursodiol can help bile to flow through the liver, which improves liver functioning and reduces scarring. If medications are no longer working and a person begins to experience liver failure, a transplant may be needed. People with primary biliary cholangitis may also take medications that control symptoms like itching and fatigue. For example, antihistamines can keep itching under control.

Common Symptoms

  • “My doctor discovered primary biliary cholangitis when conducting routine blood work. Initially, I did not have any symptoms, but several years later, I developed itchy skin as well as dry eyes and mouth.”
  • “In the later stages of primary biliary cholangitis, I experienced pain in the upper right portion of my stomach, as well as yellowing in my skin and eyes.”
  • “After having primary biliary cholangitis for several years, I developed muscle pain and swelling in my feet and ankles, and I often had diarrhea.”



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What Our Patients Are Saying

I’ve been a patient of Dr. Weber for almost a decade. My husband for more than & it was he who recommended Dr. Weber. He’s knowledgeable & well experienced in his field. Plus he’s an all around kind & nice guy. And you’d like how the office & tech staff are trained to run the operation of this practice. Efficient, patient and helpful! I’d feel very comfortable recommending this practice.

Vicki M.

I had a great time. Everyone was very friendly and professional. One nurse said I had nice eyes, which really helped my self esteem. Dr. Willie was fantastic. His concern about having magenta ink for the printer really shows what a caring man he is. The pictures turned out great. I framed them and hung them up on my wall at home. But, seriously the experience was pleasant. Thank you to everyone involved.

Terry M.

Lord knows having a colonoscopy is zero fun. The prep nearly did me in. But after arriving at suite 270 every single person was pleasant and efficient. The attention to cleanliness in the office is very apparent and appreciated. Every employee introduced themselves by name, apologized for an IV that took two tries and made sure I was as comfortable as can be before I was ready to leave. However, I’m going to enjoy every minute of the five years before I need to return!

Marie C.

I have been here several times and have always been treated great. The receptionist are so kind and the nurses are wonderful so is the anesthesia person are so kind and answers any concerns you might have. My Dr Bologna is awesome. This is the place to go if you need endoscopy or colonoscopy. Thank all the staff for being so kind

Debbie A.

Our Doctors

We’re proud of our team here at Digestive Health Institute. Our health care providers include some of the very best colorectal surgeons, gastroenterologists and physician assistants. To learn more about our qualified team of specialists, please visit our providers page.

Anezi E. Bakken MD, MS

Sante D. Bologna MD, FACP

M. Emin Donat MD, FRCPC

Freeha Khan MD

Partha S. Nandi

Leonard G. Quallich III MD

Jack Tocco DO

John R. Weber MD

Richard T. Wille MD

Tusar Desai MD

Aalia Saeed, MD


What happens during my first visit?
If you are a new patient, you can expect to have a complete physical exam. You will also be asked detailed questions about your current problems and your past medical history, your current medications, allergies, your family history and other pertinent medical information. If you are taking medications, please bring a completed medical history form with you to your appointment. Once the physician has reviewed your medical information and completed the physical examination, a plan of care will be developed. You may need to be seen again in the office, be referred back to your family physician for follow-up care, or require additional testing. If additional tests are needed, we will assist you in scheduling these tests.
What if I need to schedule an endoscopic procedure?

An endoscopic procedure allows the physician to visualize a part of your gastrointestinal tract with a special instrument called an endoscope. If your family physician has ordered testing, you will be contacted by telephone by one of our staff members. If a physician orders testing and you are in the office, the procedure can generally be scheduled during the course of your visit. You will be given a date, time, and location for the test, as well as written instructions telling you how to prepare for the test. If you have any questions about the procedure, please feel free to ask one of our staff members or the physician.

How do I get test results?

We ask that you wait 10 to 14 days before contacting us for results. Often results come from several different sources. This information needs to be compiled and reviewed by your physician before you can be appropriately advised. 

What insurances do you accept?

We accept payment from most insurance companies including Medicare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Blue Care Network, Physicians Health Plan, Cofinity, Sparrow Professional Health Network, Medicaid, McLaren, Health Plus, and several others. Accepted insurances are subject to change at any time without notice.

If your insurance requires an authorization from your primary care physician, you may be asked to assist us in obtaining this authorization.

All patients are responsible for all copays and deductibles at the time of service.

If you have any questions regarding your benefits or insurance coverage, please contact our Billing Department at 248-844-9710.

What if I need to contact the doctor?

To contact your doctor during business hours please call our main number 248-844-9710. If you have an urgent need to speak with the doctor after hours, you will be rerouted to our after hours answering service, and your doctor will be paged. In the case of a medical emergency please proceed directly to the nearest hospital emergency room.

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