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January 1985

Diagnosis of Liver Involvement in Early Syphilis: A Critical Review

Author Affiliations

From the General Hospital, Birmingham, England.

Arch Intern Med. 1985;145(1):132-134. doi:10.1001/archinte.1985.00360010170028

• The diagnosis of liver involvement in early syphilis has always posed problems because of its rarity and the difficulty of excluding coincidental liver disease caused by a multitude of pathogens. Case reports deal predominantly with jaundiced homosexual men in whom syphilis is discovered later, and the prospective studies of patients with early syphilis disclose only mild biochemical abnormalities in liver function test results. There is no single characteristic feature attributable to early syphilitic hepatitis. Even liver histologic findings are variable. At least in those patients who have jaundice, there is a likelihood of coincidental viral hepatitis. Therefore, the evidence to implicate Treponema pallidum as a liver pathogen in early syphilis is not convincing.

(Arch Intern Med 1985;145:132-134)