Acute fatty liver of pregnancy: a clinical study of 12 episodes in 11 patients.
Twelve episodes of acute fatty liver of pregnancy (AFLP) were diagnosed in 11 patients during the past 18 years in a general hospital in Santiago, Chile, with a prevalence of 1 per 15,900 deliveries. Acute fatty liver of pregnancy started between the 31st and 38th weeks of pregnancy, with malaise, vomiting, jaundice, and lethargy as the main clinical manifestations. Polydipsia (in nine episodes) and skin pruritus (in seven episodes) were unusual clinical findings. In two patients, pruritus started two and four weeks before AFLP, suggesting that an intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy preceded AFLP in those patients. Considering the current prevalence of both diseases in Chile, their association should be considered fortuitous. In another patient, two consecutive pregnancies were affected by AFLP, raising to three the number of reported patients with recurrent AFLP. In 11 episodes, liver biopsies supported the diagnosis of AFLP by showing small and midsized vacuolar cytoplasmic transformation as the most prominent histopathological feature. Positive intracellular fat staining was found in the four samples analysed. Studies by electron microscopy showed megamitochondria with paracrystalline inclusions in four samples. All the mothers survived, but fetal mortality was 58.3%. Several extrahepatic complications delayed maternal recovery for up to four weeks after delivery. This study confirms an improvement in maternal prognosis in AFLP, discusses the possibility of an epidemiological association with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy, and increases the number of patients reported with recurrent AFLP.