Hepatic sarcoidosis. Clinicopathologic features in 100 patients

Am J Surg Pathol. 1993 Dec;17(12):1272-80.


The patterns of hepatic injury were studied in 100 patients with a diagnosis of sarcoidosis and clinical evidence of liver disease that led to diagnostic liver biopsy. Granulomas were present in all patients; they occupied from < 1% to > 90% of the total volume of tissue examined and were most often located in the portal/periportal region. In none of the 100 cases were infectious organisms identified by special stains, culture, or serology. In 99% of cases, these granulomas were noncaseating; in one of the 100 cases central caseation was noted. In addition to the granulomas present in all biopsies, three broad categories of histologic change were found: cholestatic (58%), necroinflammatory (41%), and vascular (20%). Among those with cholestasis, 19 patients had bile duct lesions similar to primary biliary cirrhosis, whereas another 13 had a pattern of periductal fibrosis reminiscent of primary sclerosing cholangitis. In 37 patients with chronic cholestasis, a decrease in the number of bile ducts (ductopenia) was noted. Twelve patients had an acute cholangitis suggestive of mechanical obstruction--although no clinical evidence of ductal obstruction was found. Necroinflammatory changes included spotty necrosis suggesting hepatitis of diverse etiologies (including viral infection and drug reaction) and chronic portal inflammation suggestive of chronic active hepatitis. Vascular changes consisted of sinusoidal dilatation (14 cases) and nodular regenerative hyperplasia (9 cases). In 6% of the patients, the only changes in the biopsy were those of granulomatous inflammation; each of these patients had a dominant mass ("sarcoidoma"), which had been biopsied to rule out tumor. Fibrosis was seen in 21% of the biopsies--periportal (13%), bridging (2%), or cirrhosis (6%). It is clear that sarcoidosis can cause progressive liver disease with a wide array of histologic features that can mimic those of other primary liver diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cholestasis / complications
  • Female
  • Hepatitis / complications
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary / complications
  • Liver Diseases / complications
  • Liver Diseases / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sarcoidosis / complications
  • Sarcoidosis / pathology*