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P R Health Sci J. 1998 Sep;17(3):297-300.

Steroid therapy in fulminant hepatic failure secondary to autoimmune hepatitis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00936-5067.


Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic inflammatory liver disorder of unknown etiology associated with serum autoantibodies and hypergammaglobulinemia. This disease has a broad spectrum of presentations ranging from asymptomatic to fulminant hepatic failure. A 36 year old female with past history of hypothyroidism developed jaundice 2 months prior to admission. Outpatient evaluation revealed ANA and anti-SMA antibodies in high titers, negative viral markers for hepatitis, and hypergammaglobulinemia. A presumptive diagnosis of autoimmune hepatitis was made; steroids were recommended but the patient did not take them. She was admitted to the University Hospital due to increased jaundice, general malaise and ascites 5 weeks later. She deteriorated developing coagulopathy, encephalopathy and increasing hyperbilirubinemia. Intravenous corticosteroids were started. The patient improved and was discharged 3 weeks after admission. Fulminant hepatic failure has a high mortality and may require liver transplant. Our patient survived fulminant hepatic failure that resolved after corticosteroid therapy. It is important to identify and distinguish autoimmune hepatitis from other forms of liver disease because of the high percentage of response to immuno-suppressive therapy. Early diagnosis and treatment of this condition could improve survival, quality of life, and defer liver transplantation.

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