Hepatic failure and death due to new onset T cell lymphoma

Ekta Gupta, James E. Rose, Joel E. Straughen, Laura E. Lamps, Kevin W. Olden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Liver involvement is commonly seen in disseminated T cell lymphoma; however, it is rarely the presenting organ. Here, we describe a case of Tcell lymphoma presenting as acute hepatobiliary disease leading to hepatic failure and death. Discussion: Forty-seven-year-old male with history of cirrhosis (etiology undetermined), diabetes mellitus, and pancytopenia was admitted to ICU for hypotension and failure to thrive. He had icterus, minimal ascitis, and hepatosplenomegaly on physical examination. No lymphadenopathy was noted. Laboratory workup on admission showed elevated total bilirubin (10.1 mg/dl) and liver enzymes. Serology for acute viral hepatitis, human immunodeficiency virus, Epstein-Barr virus, and autoimmune hepatitis was negative. CT abdomen showed cirrhotic liver with heterogeneous arterial enhancement of the liver without definite mass lesions. Hospital course was complicated by progressively worsening hypotension, respiratory failure, profound acidosis, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and multi-organ system failure leading to death on hospital day 12. Autopsy of the liver showed cirrhotic changes with infiltration with atypical small lymphocytes confined to septa which were CD3 and CD5 positive (CD4 weakly positive, CD8, CD20, CD57, CD56, CD30, Alk-1, granzyme B, TIA1, and S100 negative). Unusual clinical/histological features include (1) initial clinical presentation of hepatic dysfunction without obvious physical signs of lymphoma, (2) negative workup for viral, toxic, autoimmune, and metabolic liver disease, (3) involvement of the entire liver, observed as heterogeneous enhancement of liver without any focal mass lesion as seen on CT scan, (4) an aggressive nature of disease, and (5) autopsy of liver with T cell infiltration confined to septa. Initial diagnosis was challenging due to unusual clinical presentation suggesting inflammatory hepatobiliary disease and the absence of enlarged lymph nodes. Conclusion: In conclusion, early suspicion of this aggressive lymphoma is important and should be considered in the evaluation of a patient whose course is atypical for hepatitis. Even in the absence of a mass lesion or lymphadenopathy, hepatosplenic T cell lymphoma should be included in the differential diagnosis of acute hepatic dysfunction in a patient who has no evidence of viral, toxic, autoimmune, or metabolic liver disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-182
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Hepatic failure
  • Liver involvement
  • T cell lymphoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Gastroenterology


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