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Prospective study of periostitis and finger clubbing in primary biliary cirrhosis and other forms of chronic liver disease.
  1. O Epstein,
  2. R Dick,
  3. S Sherlock

    Abstract

    The association of finger clubbing and periostitis has been reported in primary biliary cirrhosis and, more rarely, in other forms of chronic liver disease. The prevalence of periostitis and its relationship to finger clubbing is unknown. In this prospective study, we have determined the prevalence of periostitis and finger clubbing in 74 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis and 54 with other forms of chronic liver disease. Clubbing was present in 24% of patients with primary biliary cirrhosis, 29% with HBsAg negative chronic active hepatitis, and 23% in the group of miscellaneous liver diseases. Symmetrical periostitis affecting the tibiae and fibulae occurred in 35% of patients with primary biliary cirrhosis, 29% with chronic, active hepatitis and 40% of patients in the miscellaneous group. The distal radii and ulnae were affected in only eight patients (6%). In primary biliary cirrhosis, the presence of finger clubbing was strongly associated with periostitis (P less than 0.01), but this association was uncommon in other forms of chronic liver disease. In all forms of chronic liver disease periostitis commonly occurs in the absence of finger clubbing. Marked tenderness over the distal leg bones is a reliable sign of underlying periostitis, but this sign is present in only a third of affected patients. This study indicates that periostitis affecting the lower leg bones is common in patients with chronic liver disease, and its presence should be sought whether or not the patient has finger clubbing.

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