Hepatic histopathologic condition does not correlate with laboratory abnormalities in HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count)

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1992 Dec;167(6):1538-43. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(92)91735-s.


Objective: Our objective was to categorize the histologic findings in the liver in patients with HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count) and to correlate these findings with the severity of clinical laboratory abnormalities.

Study design: Eleven patients with laboratory criteria for HELLP syndrome who required cesarean delivery underwent needle biopsy of the liver under direct visualization.

Results: Eight patients had periportal hemorrhage, and six had fibrin deposition. Fatty infiltration was seen in four, one with large-droplet fat, three with microvesicular fat. There was no statistically significant correlation between the severity of the histologic findings of periportal hemorrhage and fibrin deposition and the clinical laboratory findings. Fatty infiltration did not correlate with the severity of the HELLP syndrome's histologic condition, but, in contrast, did correlate with thrombocytopenia and aminotransferase elevations.

Conclusions: Laboratory abnormalities do not accurately reflect the severity of the underlying histopathologic condition in HELLP syndrome. We propose that all patients with HELLP syndrome, regardless of the degree of their laboratory abnormalities, be treated aggressively, primarily with delivery.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • HELLP Syndrome / blood
  • HELLP Syndrome / metabolism
  • HELLP Syndrome / pathology*
  • Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Pregnancy