Alcoholic Hepatitis

Definition: A disorder of the liver characterized by liver ce1l necrosis and inflammation following chronic consumption of hazardous levels of alcohol. It is a well documented precursor of alcoholic cirrhosis, particularly in those whose alcohol intake remains high.

Although the diagnosis is, strictly speaking, a histological one, it is often made on the basis of clinical and biochemical evidence, even if confirmation by biopsy is not possible. The diagnosis is suggested on clinical grounds by the presence of jaundice (which may be deep) and tender hepatomegaly, and sometimes ascites and haemorrhage.