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Clin Lymphoma. 2001 Sep;2(2):123-8.

Hepatic failure as the presenting manifestation of malignant lymphoma.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75246, USA.


Fulminant hepatic failure carries a high mortality regardless of etiology. Liver transplantation may be lifesaving. Hepatic invasion by malignant lymphoma is a rare cause of liver failure, but one that is potentially responsive to treatment. Lymphoma (non-Hodgkin's or Hodgkin's) should be included in the differential diagnosis of fulminant hepatic failure so that liver transplantation is avoided and appropriate therapy can be instituted. The findings and clinical course of 4 patients with liver failure due to hepatic lymphoma, who were referred to our institution for liver transplant evaluation, are presented and discussed. Medical records, imaging studies, and histological material were examined. Review of the literature revealed less than 40 cases of lymphoma presenting as fulminant hepatic failure. The diagnosis of malignant lymphoma may be difficult. The presenting symptoms and signs are indistinguishable from other causes of fulminant hepatic failure. Early liver biopsy with adequate tissue and immunologic studies is mandatory for diagnosis. This condition may be reversible and may respond to chemotherapy if the diagnosis is made prior to multiorgan system failure. The presence of malignant lymphoma is considered a contraindication to liver transplantation, although firm data are lacking.

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