Autoimmune cholangitis mimicking a klatskin tumor: A case report

Division of Gastroenterology, 2775, Laurel Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5Z 1M9, Canada. .
Journal of Medical Case Reports 09/2011; 5:485. DOI: 10.1186/1752-1947-5-485
Source: PubMed


Autoimmune cholangitis remains an elusive manifestation of immunoglobulin G4-associated systemic disease most commonly encountered in patients with autoimmune pancreatitis. No strict diagnostic criteria have been described to date and diagnosis mainly relies on a combination of clinical and histopathologic findings. It is hence even more challenging to diagnose autoimmune cholangitis in patients with late or atypical presentations, such as without concomitant pancreatic involvement. Early diagnosis of this rare disorder can significantly improve outcomes considering high rates of surgical intervention, as well as high relapse rates in the absence of steroid treatment. To the best of our knowledge the literature is quite sparse on cases with atypical presentations of autoimmune cholangitis.
We report a case of a previously healthy 65-year-old man of Middle-Eastern origin, with a history of pancreatic insufficiency of unknown etiology, evaluated for elevated liver function tests found incidentally on a routine physical examination. Imaging studies revealed an atrophic pancreas and biliary duct dilatation consistent with obstruction. Subsequent endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography showed a bile duct narrowing pattern suggestive of cholangiocarcinoma, but brushings failed to reveal malignant cells. Our patient proceeded to undergo surgical resection. Histological examination of the resected mass revealed lymphoplasmacytic infiltrate with no malignant features. Our patient returned three months later with persistently high liver function tests and no evidence of biliary obstruction on imaging. A presumptive diagnosis of autoimmune cholangitis was made and our patient's symptoms resolved after a short course of an oral steroid regimen. Post factum staining of the resection specimen revealed an immunoglobulin G4 antibody positive immune cell infiltrate, consistent with the proposed diagnosis.
Our case thus highlights the importance of clinician awareness of the autoimmune spectrum of biliary pathologies when confronted with atypical clinical presentations, the paucity of diagnostic measures and the benefit from long-term steroid and/or immunosuppressive treatment.

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Available from: Bill Salh, Sep 27, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP) is categorised into two distinct types, AIP type 1 and 2. Although there can be multisystem involvement, rarely, the cholangitis associated with AIP can present radiologically in a manner similar to that of Klatskin tumour. We present the case of a 65-year-old man who was almost misdiagnosed with a Klatskin tumour because of the similarity in radiological features of the two aforementioned clinical entities. The patient presented with a history of jaundice, pruritus and abdominal pain, and work up showed deranged liver function tests, elevated cancer antigen 19-9 levels and positive antinuclear antibodies. CT scan of the abdomen showed findings suggestive of Klatskin tumour but due to diffuse enlargement of the pancreas and surrounding low-attenuation halo found on a closer review, a diagnosis of AIP was performed. The patient was started on standard corticosteroid therapy and responded well, with complete resolution of the radiological findings. 2015 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
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