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Mediterr Med. 1985 Oct 2;13(343):21-4.

[Peliosis hepatis and oral contraceptives: a case report].

[Article in French]



Possible hepatic effects of oral contraceptives (OCs) include tumors, intrahepatic cholestasis, and less well known vascular lesions such as Budd-Chiari syndrome and peliosis, a disseminated pseudocystic dilatation of the sinusoid capillaries of the liver. A 29-year-old woman with a history of 4 pregnancies, hypertension and diabetes both requiring daily medication, and use since April 1983 of an oral contraceptive (OC) containing .15 mg levonorgestrel and .03 mg of ethinyl estradiol complained in March 1984 of epigastric pain and increased abdominal volume. Ascitis was diagnosed and the patient was hospitalized. She had experienced a generalized pruritus for several months and had lost weight. The bilirubin, alcaline phosphatase, and Gamma GT levels were slightly elevated. Sonography showed a hypertrophied liver. Incipient esophageal varices were seen with gastric fibroscopy. The small subhepatic venous branches had a cloudy aspect. The peliosis hepatis was diagnosed by a transjugular puncture biopsy of the liver. With discontinuation of the OCs, the ascites did not reappear after puncture and the perturbations of the liver functioning normalized. On follow-up in April 1985, slight hepatomagaly persisted but the patient reported no further symptoms. She continued her medication for hypertension and diabetes. Peliosis hepatis was 1st described in 1964 and several cases related to OC use have been reported since 1972. Peliosis has the aspect of multiple small congestive cavities of 1-3 mm in diameter in the parenchyma. The lesions consist of areas of hepatocellular necrosis secondarily filled with blood. The cysts may be voluminous and subcortical, creating a risk of hemoperitoneum. The lesions may also be associated with a benign or malignant liver tumor. Regression of the lesions is possible with termination of the etiologic agent. Clinically, hepatomegaly, painful or not, sometimes associated with splenomegaly, is often found with peliosis. Moderate jaundice is very frequent. Ascites or edema of the legs are observed. Hyperbilirubinemia and augmentation of phosphatases and Gamma GT are the main laboratory findings. Transaminases may be slightly elevated, and the rate of prothrombin may be diminished. The condition is sometimes diagnosed with laparoscopy, celiomesenteric arteriography, or phlebography, but hepatic puncture biopsy usually establishes the diagnosis. The contition may improve if the etiologic agent is removed or it may worsen because of liver failure or a complication such as hemoperitoneum or an associated tumor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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