The Challenges of Treating Autoimmune Hepatitis
JANUARY 19, 2013
Autoimmune hepatitis often responds well to steroid therapy but identifying the disease and the best approach to management is filled with complexities, said Paul Martin, MD, professor of medicine, and division chief of Hepatology at Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, who spoke this week at a joint conference of the American Gastroenterological Association and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy in Coronado, California.
Autoimmune hepatitis has characteristic clinical, serological, and histological features but many tests used in its medical management are not specific for the condition, noted Martin.
“We need to keep an open mind when we are evaluating patients with autoimmune hepatitis,” said Martin, speaking about the difficulties of diagnosing the condition.
The disease is steroid responsive, so a revised diagnosis may be in order if a patient does not respond to therapy within a few weeks.
A helpful tool is the fairly recent development of diagnostic criteria for autoimmune hepatitis, which assigns points based on the presence of a number of factors, including auto antibodies. It provides a useful checklist when evaluating a patient, said Martin.