Liver disease in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia

N Engl J Med. 2000 Sep 28;343(13):931-6. doi: 10.1056/NEJM200009283431305.


Background: Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, or Rendu-Osler-Weber disease, is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by angiodysplastic lesions (telangiectases and arteriovenous malformations) that affect many organs. Liver involvement in patients with this disease has not been fully characterized.

Methods: We studied the clinical findings and results of hemodynamic, angiographic, and imaging studies in 19 patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia and symptomatic liver involvement.

Results: We evaluated 14 women and 5 men who ranged in age from 34 to 74 years. All but one of the patients had a hyperdynamic circulation (cardiac index, 4.2 to 7.3 liters per minute per square meter of body-surface area). In eight patients, the clinical findings were consistent with the presence of high-output heart failure. The cardiac index and pulmonary-capillary wedge pressure were elevated in the six patients in whom these measurements were performed. After a median period of 24 months, the condition of three of the eight patients had improved, four were in stable condition with medical therapy, and one had died. Six patients had manifestations of portal hypertension such as ascites or variceal bleeding. The hepatic sinusoidal pressure was elevated in the four patients in whom it was measured. After a median period of 19 months, the condition of two of the six patients had improved, and the other four had died. Five patients had manifestations of biliary disease, such as an elevated alkaline phosphatase level and abnormalities on bile duct imaging. After a median period of 30 months, the condition of two of the five had improved, the condition of one was unchanged, heart failure had developed in one, and one had died after an unsuccessful attempt at liver transplantation.

Conclusions: In patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia and symptomatic liver-involvement, the typical clinical presentations include high-output heart failure, portal hypertension, and biliary disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biliary Tract Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiac Output, High / etiology
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal / etiology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / etiology*
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Telangiectasia, Hereditary Hemorrhagic / complications*
  • Telangiectasia, Hereditary Hemorrhagic / mortality