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Peliosis hepatis

Wissam Bleibel, MD
Michael P Curry, MD
Section Editor
Sanjiv Chopra, MD, MACP
Deputy Editor
Kristen M Robson, MD, MBA, FACG


Peliosis hepatis is a rare vascular condition of the liver characterized by a proliferation of the sinusoidal hepatic capillaries that results in cystic blood-filled cavities distributed randomly throughout the liver [1,2]. The term originates from the Greek "pelios," which means blue/black or discolored extravasated blood [3]. Peliosis is most commonly found in the liver but can also involve the spleen, bone marrow, lungs, abdominal lymph nodes, and other organs [2,4].


The epidemiology of peliosis hepatis is incompletely understood since many patients are asymptomatic and remain undiagnosed. Peliosis hepatis is often an incidental finding on abdominal imaging or autopsy. The incidence does not differ by gender [5].

The reported prevalence of peliosis hepatis in patients with associated conditions ranges from 0.2 percent of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis to as high as 22 percent in patients following renal transplant [2,6,7].


First described in patients with advanced cancer and tuberculosis and in users of anabolic steroids [2,8,9], peliosis hepatis is now associated with a variety of conditions (table 1) [10-13]. The mechanisms by which these lead to peliosis hepatis is unknown. Risk factors can be divided into three categories:

Drug–related factors (ie, steroids, oral contraceptives, azathioprine, chemotherapeutic agents).

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 27, 2017.
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