Background/aims: The significance of abnormal liver function tests in the absence of diagnostic serology is unclear. The aim of this study was to report liver biopsy findings in a large group of patients with unexplained abnormal liver biochemistry.
Methods: Histological findings were examined in 354 patients who underwent liver biopsy to investigate abnormal liver function tests.
Results: Six percent of patients had a normal liver biopsy while 26% were found to have some degree of fibrosis and 6% were cirrhotic. Thirty four and 32% of biopsies suggested non-alcoholic steatohepatits or fatty liver respectively. Other diagnoses included cryptogenic hepatitis, drug toxicity, primary and secondary biliary cirrhosis, autoimmune hepatits, alcohol-related liver disease, primary sclerosing cholangitis, haemochromatosis, amyloid and glycogen storage disease. Patient management was directly altered in 18% of patients due to liver biopsy findings and three families were entered into screening programmes for inheritable liver disease.
Conclusions: The finding of abnormal liver function tests in the absence of diagnostic serology may indicate significant liver disease. Liver biopsy yields a range of liver diseases of diverse nature and extent. Liver diseases may be uncovered for which specific treatment is indicated.