30 years of research – Paper No. 3

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I nearly cried with relief when I met Professor Elwyn Elias (hepatologist) in 1991; within minutes of my appointment with him I soon realised that he was one of the few doctors who really understood what the itch in ICP could be like. Although he’s now retired, Elwyn contributed so much to the early research of ICP, and I think he should have been given more recognition for his work.

I will be forever grateful to him for his kindness and understanding, as well as his air of calmness that always managed to settle me down when I was having a particularly anxious time during my last ICP pregnancy (and there were lots of those moments!). When I was in hospital waiting to have my last #littleitch he visited me on Christmas Day just to see how I was coping, and I did cry then – I wasn’t used to a medical professional being so ‘human’ (I should add that Judith Weaver, the obstetrician who diagnosed me, was also wonderful). I don’t know what you think, but I believe that having a medical professional who you feel really has your back during ICP makes all the difference in how you get through that pregnancy.

It’s the words in this paper by Elwyn that really stand out for me ‘The pregnant woman may be driven to distraction by severe pruritus, most severely felt on hands and feet, which leads to regular cold baths and other ineffectual palliation during stressful sleepless nights. The brush off that “itching is of no consequence” and that “everyone itches in pregnancy” merely adds insult to injury’, and I don’t think there is a woman who has had ICP who won’t get this!

Jenny Chambers

Elias E. URSO in obstetric cholestasis: not a bear market. Gut 1999; 45: 331–332.

The full text of this paper is available at the link above.

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