Incidence of abnormal liver biochemical tests in hyperthyroidism

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Abstract

Objective

Abnormal serum liver function tests are common in patients with untreated thyrotoxicosis, even prior to the initiation of antithyroidal medications that may worsen the severity of the abnormal serum liver biochemistries. There is a wide range of the incidence of these abnormalities in the published literature. The aim of this study was to assess the risks factors and threshold of thyrotoxicosis severity for developing an abnormal liver biochemical test upon the diagnosis of new thyrotoxicosis.

Design

Single-institution retrospective cohort study.

Patients

Patients of ≥18 years old receiving medical care at a large, academic, urban US medical centre between 2002–2016.

Measurements

Inclusion criteria were a serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) concentration of <0·3 mIU/l or ICD-9 code for thyrotoxicosis, with thyrotoxicosis confirmed by either a concurrent elevated serum triiodothyronine (T3) or thyroxine (T4) concentration ([total or free] within 3 months), and an available liver biochemical test(s) within 6 months of thyrotoxicosis. The biochemical liver tests assessed were serum aspartate transaminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (AP), gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), total bilirubin, and conjugated bilirubin concentrations.

Results

In this cohort of 1514 subjects, the overall incidence of any biochemical liver test abnormality within 6 months of thyrotoxicosis was 39%. An initial serum TSH concentration <0·02 mIU/l, male gender, and African-American race were significant predictors of an abnormal serum liver biochemical test within 6 months of the diagnosis of new-onset untreated thyrotoxicosis.

Conclusions

This study identifies risk factors for patients who develop an abnormal serum liver biochemical test result within 6 months of a diagnosis of untreated thyrotoxicosis.

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