Isolated Type Immunoglobulin G4 Sclerosing Cholangitis: The Misdiagnosed Cholangiocarcinoma

Roni Nasser, Hayim Gilshtein, Subhi Mansour, Kamel Yasin, Giuseppe Borzellino, Safi Khuri


Immunoglobulin G4 sclerosing cholangitis (IgG4-SC), firstly described in 2004, is the biliary manifestation of a recently described multisystem immune-mediated disease known as IgG4-related disease. IgG4-SC is a unique and rare type of cholangitis of unknown etiology and its precise prevalence rate is still unclear. It is characterized by bile duct wall thickening and high levels of systemic serum IgG4 plasma cells. Differential diagnoses for IgG4-SC include benign (primary sclerosing cholangitis) as well as malignant (extra-hepatic cholangiocarcinoma) diseases. Discrimination between these entities is very important, due to the fact that they have different biological behaviors and different therapeutic strategies. The rare IgG4-SC subgroup with its puzzling manifestations carries a hefty diagnostic challenge for the treating physicians, and inaccurate diagnosis can lead to unnecessary morbid surgical procedures. With the paucity and relative weakness of available data in the current literature, one needs to carefully review all available parameters. A low threshold of suspicion is required to try and prevent missing IgG4-SC. IgG4-SC is highly responsive to steroid treatment, especially during the early inflammatory phase, while delay in management could lead to fibrosis and organ dysfunction. On the other hand, cholangiocarcinoma is treated by means of surgery and/or chemotherapeutic agents.

J Clin Med Res. 2021;13(2):75-81


Immunoglobulin G4 sclerosing cholangitis; Extra-hepatic cholangiocarcinoma; Autoimmune pancreatitis

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