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Hepatic Granulomas


Danielle Tholey

, MD, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital

Last full review/revision Aug 2021| Content last modified Aug 2021
Topic Resources

Hepatic granulomas are small abnormal clumps of cells that form in the liver when certain disorders are present or certain drugs are taken.

Granulomas themselves usually cause no problems, but the disorders that cause them may.

Granulomas have many causes. The most common are

Granulomas may form when cells of the immune system gather to respond to irritants or to defend the body against foreign substances in the liver. Usually, liver function is unaffected, although liver-related blood tests may be abnormal. Granulomas may form as part of widespread inflammation, which may be a reaction to a drug or to an infection. If inflammation is widespread, the liver may malfunction. Rarely, the inflammation results in scar tissue and high blood pressure in the veins that bring blood from the intestine to the liver (called portal hypertension Portal Hypertension Portal hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure in the portal vein (the large vein that brings blood from the intestine to the liver) and its branches. Cirrhosis (scarring that distorts... read more ).

Symptoms of Hepatic Granulomas

Granulomas themselves typically cause no symptoms. The liver may enlarge slightly, and mild jaundice Jaundice in Adults In jaundice, the skin and whites of the eyes look yellow. Jaundice occurs when there is too much bilirubin (a yellow pigment) in the blood—a condition called hyperbilirubinemia. (See also Overview... read more Jaundice in Adults (a yellowish discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes) may develop. Other symptoms, if they develop, result from the disorder causing the granulomas. Granulomas caused by sarcoidosis may disappear spontaneously or persist for years without causing any noticeable symptoms.

Idiopathic granulomatous hepatitis is a rare disorder of unknown cause. It causes granulomas, fever, muscle aches, and fatigue. These symptoms often occur intermittently for years.

Diagnosis of Hepatic Granulomas

Treatment of Hepatic Granulomas

  • Treatment of underlying disorder

  • For sarcoidosis, sometimes corticosteroids

The underlying disorder is treated. Stopping a drug that can cause granulomas or treating an infection usually causes the granulomas to disappear.

More Information

The following is an English-language resource that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

  • American Liver Foundation: Hosts community education programs that give an overview of all aspects of liver disease and wellness. Also provides access to support groups, information on finding a physician, and opportunities to participate in clinical trials.

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Liver failure is a condition that occurs when a large portion of the liver becomes damaged and unable to function. Sometimes liver failure develops quickly, over several days (acute liver failure); other times, it develops slowly, over months or years (chronic liver failure). There are numerous causes of liver failure. Which of the following is NOT a common cause of liver failure?
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