Pretreatment liver biopsy in 20 children with histiocytosis X: A clinicopathologic correlation



Liver biopsies were done on 20 patients with histiocytosis × (HX) as part of pretreatment evaluation prior to entry on two Childrens Cancer Study Group protocols. Seventeen patients had hepatomegaly, and seven had one or more abnormal laboratory parameters using Lahey's criteria for liver dysfunction. Nineteen of 20 specimens showed various abnormalities of the portal triads. A single biopsy revealed normal liver. Among the changes were triaditis, bile duct proliferation, variable fibrosis with histiocytic infiltrates, and cirrhosis. One patient had typical granulomas of HX within the liver parenchyma in addition to portal triaditis.

Patients with larger livers and dysfunction tended to show more marked histologic abnormalities in the portal triads. However, correlations among liver size, function, and pathology showed considerable overlap. Early death among these patients was more likely to be associated with progressive HX in other sites and/or infection. Death from cirrhosis and liver failure per se occurred in one patient 4 years after initial biopsy, but five other children had evidence of cirrhosis on biopsy or at autopsy. The majority of patients with triaditis initially did not have clinical evidence of progressive liver disease although four expired with other manifestations of HX or infection. Conversely, patients showing fibrohistiocytic changes or cirrhosis initially were likely to have continuing or progressive liver disease. Although the liver histology was not diagnostic of HX, the types of portal changes usually predicted the subsequent course of liver disease.