Characteristics of cirrhosis undiagnosed during life: a comparative analysis of 73 undiagnosed cases and 149 diagnosed cases of cirrhosis, detected in 4929 consecutive autopsies

Authors


Wiedeweltsgade 56, 2100 København Ø, Denmark.

Abstract

Abstract. In 4929 consecutive autopsies performed during a period of 4 years, 222 cases (4.5%) of cirrhosis were found, of which 149 (3%) were detected while the patients were alive (diagnosed cirrhosis) and 73 (1.5%) were not detected while the patients were living (undiagnosed cirrhosis). Fifty-three of the 73 undiagnosed patients appeared to be completely without signs of cirrhosis (silent cirrhosis). In the diagnosed group, 70% of patients died from hepatic causes, in contrast to 16% in the undiagnosed group. At autopsy, the following complications of cirrhosis were found more frequently in the diagnosed group than in the undiagnosed group: ascites (41% vs. 8%), oesophageal varices (44% vs. 10%), splenomegaly (52% vs. 29%). The prevalence of hepatocellular carcinoma did not differ significantly in the two groups (12% vs. 8%). It is concluded that cirrhosis without obvious signs occurs relatively frequently, and that no sensitive noninvasive screening methods are available at present.

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