Sensitivity, specificity, and predictability of biopsy interpretations in chronic hepatitis

Gastroenterology. 1993 Dec;105(6):1824-32. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(93)91081-r.


Background: To determine the frequency of individual histological findings in different types of chronic hepatitis and to assess the sensitivity, specificity, and predictability of histological patterns in distinguishing these types, liver biopsy specimens were examined from 86 patients with autoimmune hepatitis (43 patients), chronic hepatitis B (11 patients), chronic hepatitis C (21 patients), and cryptogenic hepatitis (11 patients).

Methods: Specimens were examined under code by a single hepatopathologist, and predefined histological features were sought. A histological diagnosis was rendered based on composite changes.

Results: Patients with chronic hepatitis C had a higher frequency of portal lymphoid aggregates (76% vs. 42%, P = 0.02) and steatosis (52% vs. 16%, P = 0.006) than patients with autoimmune hepatitis, whereas the latter patients more commonly had severe periportal hepatitis (23% vs. 0%, P = 0.02), moderate to severe plasma cell infiltration of the portal tracts (66% vs. 21%, P = 0.005), and lobular hepatitis (47% vs. 16%, P = 0.04). Patients with chronic hepatitis B had a higher frequency of ground-glass hepatocytes (36% vs. 0%, P = 0.001) and multinucleated giant cells (54% vs. 2%, P = 0.0001) than those with autoimmune hepatitis and chronic hepatitis C. The histological diagnoses for these clinical entities had high specificity (81%-99%) and predictability (62%-91%) but low sensitivity (36%-57%).

Conclusions: Autoimmune hepatitis, chronic hepatitis B, and chronic hepatitis C have characteristic individual histological features. Histological patterns based on these features have high specificity and predictability but low sensitivity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Biopsy, Needle / methods*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Hepatitis / pathology*
  • Hepatitis B / pathology
  • Hepatitis C / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasma Cells / pathology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity