A prospective, double-blinded, randomized trial of corticosteroid therapy in patients with severe acute viral hepatitis has been conducted. At the same time, we have examined the prognostic significance of the presence of bridging necrosis in liver biopsies obtained from such patients as well as the predictive value of certain serologic markers. Forty-two of the 77 patients admitted to the trial were shown to have bridging necrosis on their initial biopsies. Two patients progressed to death with massive hepatic necrosis, while 5 patients developed chronic liver disease. A complicated course could not be predicted by the initial biopsy findings nor by any of the serologic markers assessed. We could not identify any clinical or epidemiologic features with prognostic impact. No advantage was demonstrated to be associated with the use of corticosteroids early in the course of severe viral hepatitis.
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