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Liver. 1990 Aug;10(4):239-48.

Liver damage in juvenile inflammatory bowel disease.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge University Hospital, Sweden.


During a 12-year period, 46 children and adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease were followed from the time of diagnosis with regular biochemical tests of liver function. Thirty-four patients had ulcerative colitis and 12 had Crohn's disease. Mean age at the time of diagnosis was 10.2 years (range 7 months-17 years) and the mean follow-up period was 5.2 years (range 1-11 years). Pathological liver function tests were found in 60% of the 34 patients with ulcerative colitis: 9 of these 20 patients demonstrated more severe disturbance, usually at the time of diagnosis. Liver damage was most frequent in patients with total colitis. Liver biopsy was performed in eight patients, demonstrating "pericholangitis", fibrosis and in one case cirrhosis. Morphometry of electron microscopical pictures revealed a significantly increased number of lysosomes and dilated cisternae of the rough endoplasmic reticulum. ERCP was performed in two patients, verifying primary sclerosing cholangitis in one. Four of the 12 patients with Crohn's disease had mildly pathological liver function tests. No correlation was found to the extent, duration or treatment of bowel disease. In our series of juvenile inflammatory bowel disease, liver damage occurred frequently, especially in ulcerative colitis. The more severe changes tended to coincide with the onset of bowel disease.

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