Two cases of the Budd-Chiari syndrome are described in whom the diagnosis was finally confirmed at necropsy. The presentation was with encephalopathy, occurring within eight weeks of first symptoms and coming therefore within the definition of fulminant hepatic failure. In one, thought to have non-A, non-B hepatitis, encephalopathy progressed to grade 4 coma with death 12 days after presentation. In the other, mistakenly thought to have intra-abdominal malignancy, an exploratory laparotomy exacerbated the encephalopathy with death three weeks later. In neither case were non-invasive investigations, such as ultrasound and isotope scanning, carried out which might have facilitated an earlier diagnosis and consideration for orthotopic liver transplantation, probably the most appropriate form of therapy for these very severe cases.
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