Hepatic sarcoidosis in patients presenting with liver dysfunction: imaging appearance, pathological correlation and disease evolution

David T. Fetzer, Mitchell A. Rees, Anil K. Dasyam, Mitchell E. Tublin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objectives: We hypothesize that hepatic sarcoidosis is a dynamic process that can lead to cirrhosis and portal hypertension, independent of the course of thoracic disease. Therefore, we assess the imaging appearance and progression of hepatic sarcoidosis in subjects presenting with hepatic dysfunction. Methods: An IRB-approved, HIPAA-compliant, single-institution retrospective review identified 39 subjects with sarcoidosis-related liver dysfunction. Clinical information was collected. Two abdominal radiologists analyzed baseline and follow-up imaging studies, scoring features of cirrhosis. Chest CT was also analyzed. Results: At presentation, 23 subjects (59.0 %) exhibited >3 cirrhotic features and 15 (38.5 %) >2 findings of portal hypertension. Of subjects with available follow-up, 57.9 % (19 subjects; mean interval 4.7 years) showed worsening of >3 cirrhotic features (Pearson rho = 0.58; p = 0.009). Parenchymal nodules were uncommon (25.6 %), and most regressed. Although 87.2 % of subjects were diagnosed with thoracic sarcoidosis, there was poor correlation between severity of hepatic and chest disease (Pearson rho = 0.30; p = 0.119). A mean of 7.2 years elapsed between diagnosis of pulmonary and liver involvement. Conclusion: Sarcoidosis may present as liver dysfunction, cirrhosis or portal hypertension. Sarcoid-related liver disease may progress and can manifest without, alongside or significantly after a diagnosis of pulmonary disease. Key points: • Patients often present with elevated liver function tests indicating cholestasis. • Patients may present with portal hypertension, and some progress to cirrhosis. • Though biopsy can be considered for focal liver lesions, most will regress. • Extent of intra-abdominal involvement may not correlate with severity of thoracic disease. • Liver disease may manifest alongside, prior to or significantly after initial diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Radiology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 16 2016


  • Chronic hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis
  • Liver diseases
  • Portal hypertension
  • Sarcoidosis complications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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