Alcoholic fatty liver disease comprises alcoholic pure steatosis and alcoholic steatohepatitis. These diseases are prevalent, but their prognostic outcome is uncertain, particularly regarding the impact of hepatic inflammation. The paucity of data based on liver biopsy diagnoses contributes to this uncertainty.
To examine the cirrhosis and mortality risks of Danish men and women with biopsy-verified alcoholic pure steatosis or steatohepatitis.
In this registry-based historical cohort study we combined liver biopsy diagnoses with hospital discharge diagnoses from nationwide healthcare registries to identify all Danish citizens with alcoholic pure steatosis (N = 136) or alcoholic steatohepatitis (N = 58) during 1997-2008. We enrolled a reference cohort of 100 gender- and age-matched persons from the general population for each patient and compared cirrhosis and mortality risks through 2010.
The 5-year cirrhosis risks were 6.9% (95% CI: 3.4-12.2%) for patients with alcoholic pure steatosis and 16.0% (95% CI: 7.8-26.8%) for patients with alcoholic steatohepatitis, their 5-year mortality risks were 16.7% (95% CI: 11.3-24.2%) and 25.1% (95% CI: 15.7-38.9%), respectively. Patients with steatohepatitis had a higher liver-related mortality than patients with pure steatosis. In the reference cohort, the 5-year cirrhosis and mortality risks were 0.3% and 4.3%, respectively.
Patients with alcoholic fatty liver disease had markedly increased cirrhosis and mortality risks compared with a matched reference cohort. The cirrhosis risk was more than twice as high for the patients with steatohepatitis than for those with pure steatosis; and was higher for women than for men.