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Arch Dis Child. 1999 Aug;81(2):129-32.

The evolution of liver disease in cystic fibrosis.

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  • 1Department of Child Health, University of Glasgow, Yorkhill NHS Trust, Glasgow G3 8SJ, UK.



To describe prospectively the evolution of liver abnormalities in cystic fibrosis (CF), and to assess their impact on nutritional status.


124 children (61 boys) with CF (median age, 5.4 years; range, 0.1-13.9) were followed longitudinally for a median of four years. Annual clinical examination, biochemistry, and ultrasound assessment were performed. Chrispin-Norman score, anthropometry, and bacterial colonisation of airway secretions were measured at each assessment.


At initial assessment, 45% of the patients had no liver abnormalities, 42% had biochemical abnormality, 35% ultrasound abnormality, and 6% had clinical abnormality of the liver. In this cross sectional analysis, abnormal biochemistry was present in 40% of children with ultrasound or clinical abnormalities, but when longitudinal follow up data were analysed, abnormal biochemistry preceded or coincided with abnormal ultrasound or clinical hepatosplenomegaly in three quarters of 53 children developing new abnormalities. Eighty four of 124 children (68%) showed ultrasound or clinical evidence of liver abnormality at some point during the four years of follow up. No association was found between liver disease and nutritional status.


Hepatic abnormality was common in this group of children with CF, was often predicted by intermittent biochemical abnormalities, and was not associated with deterioration in nutritional status.

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