Liver allograft biopsies with histological cholestasis: a clinicopathological study of 254 cases from a single centre

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Liver allograft biopsy is important in the management of liver transplant (LT) recipients. Cholestasis is an indicator of liver dysfunction, and histological evidence of cholestasis can be observed in a wide range of pathological entities in the post-LT setting. In this study, we describe the clinicopathological features and significance of liver allograft biopsies with histological cholestasis over 11 years in our centre.


Liver allograft biopsies performed in Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong from 2004 to 2014 showing histological cholestasis were retrieved from the pathology archive. Clinical and pathological data were retrospectively reviewed and analyzed.


Among the 254 biopsies from 167 patients, large duct obstruction (LDO) and acute cellular rejection (ACR) were the two main aetiologies associated with cholestasis. There was a decrease in sepsis as a cause over the study duration. In cases showing cholestasis at 6 months or more after LT, LDO was more common than ACR. Over half (61%) of the 254 biopsies showed mild cholestasis. Severe panacinar cholestasis was more often observed in LDO. Mild cholestasis was most commonly observed regardless of the severity of ACR. Severe cholestasis was associated with poorer 1-year and 3-year graft survival and patient survival, as well as higher 3-month and 6-month post-biopsy mortality.


Histological cholestasis and its severity in liver allograft biopsies has clinical and prognostic significance. Our study summarizes our previous experience and provides further insights into the management of post-LT patients.

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