Histopathologic evaluation of liver biopsy for cirrhosis

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In current medical practice, the clinical diagnosis of cirrhosis is rendered when a patient has suggestive imaging findings or features of portal hypertension (pHTN). Liver biopsy may be considered to assess potential underlying cause(s). Cirrhosis, however, is not the only etiology of pHTN; in fact, schistosomiasis remains a significant factor worldwide. pHTN results from obstruction of hepatic blood flow; it is classified clinically based on either the anatomic location of obstruction or hepatic venous pressure gradient measurements. The clinical categories carry clinicopathologic significances. Histopathologically, pHTN is manifest with either cirrhotic or noncirrhotic features. Noncirrhotic pHTN results from a heterogeneous group of disease processes, all of which result in vascular remodeling with variable parenchymal nodularity and fibrosis. This review summarizes liver biopsy findings of cirrhosis and possible etiologies and provides a stepwise approach for the histologic differential diagnosis of a liver biopsy done for "cirrhosis."

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-230
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in Anatomic Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012


  • cirrhosis
  • congenital hepatic fibrosis
  • hepatoportal sclerosis
  • idiopathic portal hypertension
  • incomplete septal cirrhosis
  • nodular regenerative hyperplasia
  • noncirrhotic portal hypertension
  • portal hypertension


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