Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Spider angiomas in patients with liver cirrhosis: role of alcoholism and impaired liver function.

BACKGROUND: Spider angioma is a common sign in patients with liver cirrhosis, but the pathogenesis is still unclear. Alcohol and hyperestrogenemia are both possible etiologies. This study was designed to investigate the relationship of spider angiomas in patients with liver cirrhosis to alcohol, liver function test results, and plasma levels of sex hormones.

METHODS: Eighty-two patients with liver cirrhosis and 18 healthy subjects were enrolled in this study. The number, size, and location of the spider angiomas were recorded for all subjects. Plasma levels of estradiol and testosterone were measured.

RESULTS: Cirrhotic patients had significantly higher estradiol/testosterone ratios (26.8 +/- 5.1 x 10(-3) versus 8.8 +/- 2.0 x 10(-3); P = 0.002) than healthy controls. Twenty-seven (33%) of the 82 cirrhotic patients had spider angiomas. Cirrhotic patients with spider angiomas were younger (56 +/- 3 versus 66 +/- 1 years; P = 0.002) and had higher serum bilirubin levels (3.3 +/- 0.6 versus 1.7 +/- 0.2 mg/dl; P = 0.002), longer prothrombin time (16.8 +/- 0.8 versus 14.8 +/- 0.4 sec; P = 0.01), and higher prevalence of alcoholism (41% versus 20%; P = 0.04) than those without. Stepwise logistic regression showed that alcoholism and serum bilirubin level were the only significant and independent predictors associated with the presence of spider angiomas in cirrhotic patients (odds ratio = 3.5; 95% confidence interval = 1.2-10.8; P = 0.03, and odds ratio = 2.8; 95% confidence interval = 1.3-5.7; P = 0.006, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: Alcoholism and impaired liver function are important predictors of the presence of spider angiomas in patients with liver cirrhosis.

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