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. 2004 Mar;33(2):204-8.

Abnormal Liver Function Tests in the Symptomatic Pregnant Patient: The Local Experience in Singapore

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  • PMID: 15098635
Free article

Abnormal Liver Function Tests in the Symptomatic Pregnant Patient: The Local Experience in Singapore

H Y Wong et al. Ann Acad Med Singapore. .
Free article

Abstract

Introduction: The causes of abnormal liver function tests in pregnancy are varied and may or may not be pregnancy-related. Often, the diagnosis can be difficult. This study looked at the causes of deranged liver function tests in obstetric patients with significant symptoms and signs.

Materials and methods: Data from 50 cases of abnormal liver function tests in pregnant patients, who presented from 1998 to 2001, were analysed. Their presenting symptoms included persistent vomiting (48%), pruritus (14%), jaundice (26%), upper abdominal discomfort (24%) and hypertension (46%).

Results: Pregnancy-related causes accounted for 84% of the abnormal liver function tests. Abnormal liver function tests occurred more frequently in the first (34%) and third (58%) trimesters than in the second trimester (8%). Hyperemesis gravidarum (94%) and partial haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelets (HELLP) syndrome (31%) were the commonest causes in the first and third trimesters respectively. Hepatitis B flare resulted in 2 maternal deaths. Seven patients with pre-eclampsia toxaemia, acute fatty liver of pregnancy or partial/complete HELLP syndrome had their liver function tests measured sequentially before and after delivery. All of them showed rapid improvement postpartum with their alanine aminotransferase (ALT) dropping 50% within 3 days.

Conclusions: The majority of patients with abnormal liver function tests had a cause related to pregnancy, and pregnancy-related causes in the third trimester improved rapidly postpartum. Hepatitis B flare was a significant non-obstetric cause leading to maternal mortality. This diagnosis must therefore be considered in ethnic groups where the incidence of chronic hepatitis B infection is high, especially in chronic hepatitis B carriers with suspected pregnancy-related disease who deteriorate postpartum.

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