Histopathological aspects of viral hepatitis


Department of Histopathology, Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street. London NW3 2QG, UK.


SUMMARY. The main method of classification of chronic viral hepatitis is now by cause, and the old histology-based classification is no longer considered appropriate. However, liver biopsy remains an important part of patient assessment and, in the context of clinical trials, biopsy findings are often scored in a semiquantitative manner. The concepts of grading and staging, borrowed from tumour pathology, have been introduced, representing the severity of the necroinflammatory lesion and the extent of its structural consequences respectively. The pathology of the individual forms of viral hepatitis A to G shows more similarities than differences. However, some pathological features are commonly associated with specific viruses. The combination of portal lymphoid follicles, bile duct damage, lobular activity and steatosis give chronic hepatitis C a characteristic histological profile. Very similar appearances have been noted in the limited number of biopsies so far reported from patients with known combined hepatitis C and G virus infection.