Obliteration of the terminal hepatic venules with perivenular fibrosis (phlebosclerosis) is a well recognised feature in alcoholic liver disease. Veno-occlusive lesions with intimal obliteration of hepatic veins and a lymphocytic phlebitis of hepatic veins may also be present. We looked for these lesions in 256 liver biopsies and 50 livers obtained at necropsy from patients with alcoholic liver disease. Phlebosclerosis was a universal finding in alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis and showed increasing severity with progressive liver injury. Veno-occlusive lesions, however, were found in only 25 of 256 (9.8%) of biopsies and 11 of 50 (22%) of livers obtained at necropsy, showing alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis: lymphocytic phlebitis was found in 10 of 256 (3.9%) and two of 50 (4%), respectively. Moreover, veno-occlusive lesions were generally mild. The prevalence of veno-occlusive lesions and lymphocytic phlebitis was considerably less than has been previously documented. Phlebosclerosis may have a different mechanism and be a more important contributory factor in progressive liver injury.
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