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


Wiedeweltsgade 56, 2100 København Ø, Denmark.


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.