In compensated cirrhosis, thick fibrous septa and small nodules on liver biopsy specimens correlate with the presence of clinically significant portal hypertension (CSPH). In turn, CSPH is the strongest predictor of cirrhosis decompensation. The aim of the study was to correlate liver biopsy specimen characteristics with the development of decompensation in patients with compensated cirrhosis.
Patients with compensated cirrhosis and a concurrent liver biopsy specimen were reviewed. Semiquantitative grading of septal thickness and nodule size was performed. Primary end point was development of clinical decompensation. In total, 168 patients (median age, 49 years; 76% men) were included in the study; the most common etiology was viral.
In a median follow-up of 50 months, 43 (26%) patients developed clinical decompensation (60% ascites, 16% encephalopathy, 12% variceal hemorrhage, 7% jaundice, and 5% mixed). On univariate analysis, septal width was significantly associated with decompensation, but nodule size was not. On multivariate analysis including model for end-stage liver disease score, serum albumin and septal width, albumin and septal width were independent predictors of decompensation.
Histologic cirrhosis in compensated patients can be subclassified by severity based on septal thickness, with thick septa denoting worse prognosis.

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