Diagnosis of Alagille syndrome-25 years of experience at King's College Hospital

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2011 Jan;52(1):84-9. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181f1572d.

Abstract

Objective: The aim of the study was to study the clinical and histological features of Alagille syndrome (AGS) at presentation comparing the value of the various modalities before the implementation of genetic diagnosis.

Patients and methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of the records of 117 children diagnosed as having AGS after referral to King's College Hospital between 1980 and 2005.

Results: Cholestasis was seen in 104 of 117 (89%), characteristic facies in 91 of 117 (77%), posterior embryotoxon in 72 of 117 (61%), butterfly vertebrae in 44 of 117 (39%), heart disease (most often peripheral pulmonary stenosis) in 107 of 117 (91%), and renal disease in 27 of 117 (23%). Serum cholesterol levels of >5 mmol/L were seen in 52 of 86 (60.4%). Liver biopsy showed characteristic features of paucity of interlobular bile ducts in 59 of 77 (76.6%) children younger than 16 weeks of age, in 10 of 14 (71.4%) between 16 weeks and 1 year of age, and in 8 of 12 (66.66%) older than 1 year of age. Other biopsy findings were those of nonspecific hepatitis and biliary features. Iminodiacetic acid scans showed no excretion of isotope into the bowel after 24 hours in 21 of 35 (60%), and small/no gallbladder on ultrasound was seen in 29 of 104 (27.8%). Eleven of 117 (9.4%) had a diagnostic laparotomy and operative cholangiography, 2 proceeding to Kasai portoenterostomy before referral to our unit.

Conclusions: Clinical features of AGS are not as consistently informative as suggested in the literature. Hypercholesterolaemia is nonspecific but may be a helpful pointer. Histology is not characteristic in 25%; hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid scan and ultrasound may suggest a false diagnosis of biliary atresia in 60% and 28%, respectively, supporting the concept that infants with liver disease warrant early referral to a specialist centre. The advent of genetic diagnosis will redefine the syndrome with likely effects on the prognosis of the defined group.

MeSH terms

  • Alagille Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Alagille Syndrome / metabolism
  • Alagille Syndrome / pathology
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / metabolism
  • Bilirubin / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholestasis / diagnosis
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Facies
  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnosis
  • Hepatomegaly / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Kidney Diseases / congenital
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spine / abnormalities*
  • Splenomegaly / diagnosis
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / metabolism

Substances

  • Cholesterol
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Bilirubin