Wilson's Disease in Children: A Position Paper by the Hepatology Committee of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2018 Feb;66(2):334-344. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000001787.


Background: Clinical presentations of Wilson's disease (WD) in childhood ranges from asymptomatic liver disease to cirrhosis or acute liver failure, whereas neurological and psychiatric symptoms are rare. The basic diagnostic approach includes serum ceruloplasmin and 24-hour urinary copper excretion. Final diagnosis of WD can be established using a diagnostic scoring system based on symptoms, biochemical tests assessing copper metabolism, and molecular analysis of mutations in the ATP7B gene. Pharmacological treatment is life-long and aims at removal of copper excess by chelating agents as D-penicillamine, trientine, or inhibition of intestinal copper absorption with zinc salts. Acute liver failure often requires liver transplantation. This publication aims to provide recommendations for diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of WD in children.

Methods: Questions addressing the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of WD in children were formulated by a core group of ESPGHAN members. A systematic literature search on WD using MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Database from 1990 to 2016 was performed focusing on prospective and retrospective studies in children. Quality of evidence was assessed according to the GRADE system. Expert opinion supported recommendations where the evidence was regarded as weak. The ESPGHAN core group and ESPGHAN Hepatology Committee members voted on each recommendation, using the nominal voting technique.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ceruloplasmin / metabolism
  • Chelating Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Copper / metabolism
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hepatolenticular Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Hepatolenticular Degeneration / therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Function Tests / methods
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Societies, Medical


  • Chelating Agents
  • Copper
  • Ceruloplasmin