ITEMS IN AFP WITH MESH TERM:
ABSTRACT: Mild elevations in liver chemistry tests such as alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase can reveal serious underlying conditions or have transient and benign etiologies. Potential causes of liver transaminase elevations include viral hepatitis, alcohol use, medication use, steatosis or steatohepatitis, and cirrhosis. The history should be thorough, with special attention given to the use of medications, vitamins, herbs, drugs, and alcohol; family history; and any history of blood-product transfusions. Other common health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and thyroid disease, can cause or augment liver transaminase elevations. The recent American Gastroenterological Association guideline regarding the evaluation and management of abnormal liver chemistry tests proposes a practical, algorithmic approach when the history and physical examination do not reveal the cause. In addition to liver chemistries, an initial serologic evaluation includes a prothrombin time; albumin; complete blood count with platelets; hepatitis A, B, and C serologies; and iron studies. Depending on the etiology, management strategies may include cessation of alcohol use, attention to medications, control of diabetes, and modification of lifestyle factors such as obesity. If elevations persist after an appropriate period of observation, further testing may include ultrasonography and other serum studies. In some cases, biopsy may be indicated.
Milk Thistle - Article
ABSTRACT: Milk thistle has been used as a cytoprotectant for the treatment of liver disease, for the treatment and prevention of cancer, and as a supportive treatment of Amanita phalloides poisoning. Clinical studies are largely heterogeneous and contradictory. Aside from mild gastrointestinal distress and allergic reactions, side effects are rare, and serious toxicity rarely has been reported. In an oral form standardized to contain 70 to 80 percent silymarin, milk thistle appears to be safe for up to 41 months of use. Significant drug reactions have not been reported. Clinical studies in oncology and infectious disease that are under way will help determine the efficacy and effectiveness of milk thistle.
Liver Disease in Pregnancy - Article
ABSTRACT: Acute viral hepatitis is the most common cause of jaundice in pregnancy. The course of acute hepatitis is unaffected by pregnancy, except in patients with hepatitis E and disseminated herpes simplex infections, in which maternal and fetal mortality rates are significantly increased. Chronic hepatitis B or C infections may be transmitted to neonates; however, hepatitis B virus transmission is effectively prevented with perinatal hepatitis B vaccination and prophylaxis with hepatitis B immune globulin. Cholelithiasis occurs in 6 percent of pregnancies; complications can safely be treated with surgery. Women with chronic liver disease or cirrhosis exhibit a higher risk of fetal loss during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is associated with HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count) syndrome, acute fatty liver of pregnancy, and hepatic infarction and rupture. These rare diseases result in increased maternal and fetal mortality. Treatment involves prompt delivery, whereupon the liver disease quickly reverses. Therapy with penicillamine, trientine, prednisone or azathioprine can be safely continued during pregnancy.
ABSTRACT: A number of pitfalls can be encountered in the interpretation of common blood liver function tests. These tests can be normal in patients with chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis. The normal range for aminotransferase levels is slightly higher in males, nonwhites and obese persons. Severe alcoholic hepatitis is sometimes confused with cholecystitis or cholangitis. Conversely, patients who present soon after passing common bile duct stones can be misdiagnosed with acute hepatitis because aminotransferase levels often rise immediately, but alkaline phosphatase and gamma-glutamyltransferase levels do not become elevated for several days. Asymptomatic patients with isolated, mild elevation of either the unconjugated bilirubin or the gamma-glutamyltransferase value usually do not have liver disease and generally do not require extensive evaluation. Overall hepatic function can be assessed by applying the values for albumin, bilirubin and prothrombin time in the modified Child-Turcotte grading system.
Evaluation of Macrocytosis - Article
ABSTRACT: Macrocytosis, generally defined as a mean corpuscular volume greater than 100 fL, is frequently encountered when a complete blood count is performed. The most common etiologies are alcoholism, vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies, and medications. History and physical examination, vitamin B12 level, reticulocyte count, and a peripheral smear are helpful in delineating the underlying cause of macrocytosis. When the peripheral smear indicates megaloblastic anemia (demonstrated by macro-ovalocytes and hyper-segmented neutrophils), vitamin B12 or folate deficiency is the most likely cause. When the peripheral smear is non-megaloblastic, the reticulocyte count helps differentiate between drug or alcohol toxicity and hemolysis or hemorrhage. Of other possible etiologies, hypothyroidism, liver disease, and primary bone marrow dysplasias (including myelodysplasia and myeloproliferative disorders) are some of the more common causes.
Preventive Strategies for Chronic Liver Disease - Editorials
Predicting Prognosis in Patients with End-stage Liver Disease - Point-of-Care Guides
ABSTRACT: Chronic liver disease is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Hepatitis C virus infection is the most frequent cause of chronic liver disease and the most common indication for liver transplantation. Preventive care can significantly reduce the progression of liver disease. Alcohol and hepatitis C virus are synergistic in hastening the development of cirrhosis; therefore, patients with hepatitis C infection should abstain from alcohol use. Because superinfection with hepatitis A or B virus can lead to liver failure, vaccination is recommended. Potentially hepatotoxic medications should be used with caution in patients with chronic liver disease. In general, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided; acetaminophen in a dosage below 2 g per day is the safest choice. Many herbal remedies are potentially hepatotoxic, and only milk thistle can be used safely in patients who have chronic liver disease. Weight reduction and exercise can improve liver function in patients with fatty liver.
ABSTRACT: Mild elevations in levels of the liver enzymes alanine transaminase and aspartate transaminase are commonly discovered in asymptomatic patients in primary care. Evidence to guide the diagnostic workup is limited. If the history and physical examination do not suggest a cause, a stepwise evaluation should be initiated based on the prevalence of diseases that cause mild elevations in transaminase levels. The most common cause is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which can affect up to 30 percent of the population. Other common causes include alcoholic liver disease, medication-associated liver injury, viral hepatitis (hepatitis B and C), and hemochromatosis. Less common causes includea1-antitrypsin deficiency, autoimmune hepatitis, and Wilson disease. Extrahepatic conditions (e.g., thyroid disorders, celiac disease, hemolysis, muscle disorders) can also cause elevated liver transaminase levels. Initial testing should include a fasting lipid profile; measurement of glucose, serum iron, and ferritin; total iron-binding capacity; and hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis C virus antibody testing. If test results are normal, a trial of lifestyle modification with observation or further testing for less common causes is appropriate. Additional testing may include ultrasonography; measurement of a1-antitrypsin and ceruloplasmin; serum protein electrophoresis; and antinuclear antibody, smooth muscle antibody, and liver/kidney microsomal antibody type 1 testing. Referral for further evaluation and possible liver biopsy is recommended if transaminase levels remain elevated for six months or more.