PBC Foundation
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Spider angiomas

Hi - male, aged 41 had pbc around 6 years.

I have recently noticed what appear to be small broken blood vessels on the skin over my ribs. Having researched this I suspect they may be spider angiomas however most of them (there are about 10-15 and very faint) are just a single line and not the spider like pattern described in various sources. I am concerned that these indicate cirrhosis despite having been told just 15 months ago by my gastro that I was at a very early stage, was responding very well to urso and had a clear ultrasound.

Do spider angiomas only appear with cirrhosis/indicate a deterioration in liver health (when connected to liver disease, I am aware there are other causes)? Is it possible to have these marks and still be early stage?

I do also have inconsistent pain in my lower right ribs, but that has been ascribed to muscular issues by my GP (will discuss with my gastro when I see him!).

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Sorry, I can't help you with information about the 'spider veins' - I checked them out on a number of medical sites and, as you probably found out yourself, they only indicate that the veins appear in the more advanced liver cirrhosis stage - but, as with anything to do with PBC (or liver diseases in general), nothing is set in stone, we all experience it differently.

"pain in my lower right ribs" - while I'm not a doctor, I can't really advise you medically about this, but I will say the pain in the area you are describing has been listed as a symptom of PBC. Also, "muscular issues" can be a symptom of PBC as well. See link below.

As you are posting here I assume you are a member of the PBC Foundation (if not join it is free) so you will have access to their "PBC for General Practitioners" pamphlet - in the "Symptomatic Phase" section it states" "Other complications often seen in PBC are non-specific, for example persistent right upper abdominal pain....". When I first began getting this 'pain' it was inconsistent - I am now Stage 4 and have constant pain in that area.

By the way, if you access the PBC Foundation's pamphlet, print some out so you can hand it to your doctor - I always carry copies of the pamphlet in my handbag in case of an emergency, i.e. if for any reason you are in need of medical help it is easier to hand over one of the pamphlets instead of trying to explain PBC to medical staff.



I have loads & apparently my liver is classed as " not poorly' xx


Just had my checkup with the gastro and raised these points. He had a look at the blood vessels and told me it's a getting old thing (I know I'm only 41 but I guess I'm not getting an younger!) and is unlikely to be liver related.

He was also not concerned about the abdominal pain, he did suggest me taking my urso in two half doses rather than the lot in one go so that could be a reason for the pain.

Finally - I asked about progression, I assumed that regardless of response to urso the disease would progress to some extent. He said that although there are exceptions, if a patient responds well to urso in terms of liver function then the disease doesn't progress. I'm fortunate to be one of these patients, but I thought I'd post this info here as it might be reassuring for anyone else that is in a similar situation.

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