Liver Explants of Biliary Atresia Patients Transplanted in Adulthood Show Features of Obliterative Portal Venopathy: Case Series and Guidelines for Pathologic Reporting of Adult Explants

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2023 Aug 1;147(8):925-932. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2022-0057-OA.


Context.—: Biliary atresia (BA) patients can have portal vein (PV) abnormalities.

Objective.—: To investigate the explant pathology of BA patients transplanted in adulthood with a focus on portal venous abnormalities.

Design.—: Adult BA liver explants were reviewed, along with prior biopsies, Kasai portoenterostomy (KP), and relevant medical records.

Results.—: Three explants were identified; all patients were female, with age at diagnosis, KP, and liver transplantation (LT) as follows: (1) less than 1 week, 8 days, and 25 years; (2) 15 weeks, 16 weeks, and 32 years; and (3) 7 weeks, 8 weeks, and 33 years, respectively, with normalization of conjugated bilirubin within 6 months of KP and development of portal hypertension (PHTN) within 3 years of KP for all 3. The first 2 had recurrent cholangitis. Duration of pre-LT PHTN was 22, 29, and 30 years, and that of pre-LT cholangitis was 9, 3, and 0 years, respectively. All 3 explants showed hilar and extrahepatic fibromyxoid intimal hyperplasia of the PV with parenchymal hepatoportal sclerosis. Cholestasis was limited to those with a history of cholangitis. Patient 3, without cholangitis, showed delicate septal fibrosis with peripheral accentuation without biliary cirrhosis.

Conclusions.—: In the context of a functioning KP, cholestasis and biliary cirrhosis are likely related to recurrent cholangitis, which may or may not occur after KP. In the absence of biliary cirrhosis, PHTN may be secondary to obliterative venopathy. Adult BA explants should be sampled thoroughly, with a focus on hilar/perihilar connective tissue to include PV branches. Explants may not show biliary cirrhosis and should be reported with appropriate clinicopathologic correlation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biliary Atresia* / complications
  • Biliary Atresia* / pathology
  • Biliary Atresia* / surgery
  • Cholangitis* / complications
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary* / complications
  • Male
  • Portoenterostomy, Hepatic / adverse effects
  • Portoenterostomy, Hepatic / methods