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Untangling the Etiology of Ascites

Michael Lopez-Molina, Ashok V. Shiani, Kellee L. Oller

(Department of Internal Medicine, University of South Florida, Morsani College of Medicine, Tampa, FL, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2015; 16:202-205

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.893012


Background: Amyloidosis is a systemic disease known to affect a vast range of organs, including the liver, heart, and kidney. When infiltrating the liver, amyloidosis typically does not present with cirrhosis. Typical presentation includes hepatomegaly with some mild laboratory abnormalities.
Case Report: A 72-year-old man presented with a 2-week history of worsening abdominal, scrotal, and extremity swelling. He endorsed melanotic stools and intermittent dizziness with a 10-pound weight gain. Vitals revealed a blood pressure of 82/57 mmHg and a pulse of 83 beats/min with positive orthostatic changes. Mild bibasilar crackles were noted. His abdomen was moderately distended with a fluid wave present, but no hepatosplenomegaly was noted. He displayed anasarca with significant extremity and scrotal edema, but no jaundice, telangiectasias, or other stigmata of chronic liver disease were present. Liver function tests demonstrated a total bilirubin of 1.5 mg/dL (normal value: 0.2–1.2 mg/dL), AST 111 IU/L (normal value 5–34 IU/L), ALT 51 IU/L (normal value 5–55 IU/L), and GGT 583 U/L (12–64 U/L). Alkaline phosphatase was 645 U/L (40–150 U/L). Analysis of peritoneal fluid was consistent with portal hypertension due to liver disease. Given an atypical presentation of cirrhosis with unclear etiology, a biopsy was performed and revealed amyloid deposition.
Conclusions: Liver disease can be due to various etiologies, many of which can present ambiguously. Although the most typical etiologies have been well defined, we present a case of an atypical presentation of hepatic amyloidosis discovered in a patient with ascites and without typical hepatomegaly.

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