Liver pathology of hepatitis C, beyond grading and staging of the disease

World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Jan 28;22(4):1357-66. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i4.1357.


Liver biopsy evaluation plays a critical role in management of patients with viral hepatitis C. In patients with acute viral hepatitis, a liver biopsy, though uncommonly performed, helps to rule out other non-viral causes of deranged liver function. In chronic viral hepatitis C, it is considered the gold standard in assessment of the degree of necroinflammation and the stage of fibrosis, to help guide treatment and determine prognosis. It also helps rule out any concomitant diseases such as steatohepatitis, hemochromatosis or others. In patients with chronic progressive liver disease with cirrhosis and dominant nodules, a targeted liver biopsy is helpful in differentiating a regenerative nodule from dysplastic nodule or hepatocellular carcinoma. In the setting of transplantation, the liver biopsy helps distinguish recurrent hepatitis C from acute rejection and also is invaluable in the diagnosis of fibrosing cholestatic hepatitis, a rare variant of recurrent hepatitis C. This comprehensive review discusses the entire spectrum of pathologic findings in the course of hepatitis C infection.

Keywords: Biopsy; Grading; Hepatitis C; Liver pathology; Neoplasia; Staging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biopsy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Progression
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / pathology*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / therapy
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / virology
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver / surgery
  • Liver / virology
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antiviral Agents