What are possible complications of Wilson disease?

Updated: Feb 14, 2019
  • Author: Richard K Gilroy, MBBS, FRACP; Chief Editor: Praveen K Roy, MD, AGAF  more...
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The major complications in patients with untreated Wilson disease are those associated with acute liver failure, chronic hepatic dysfunction with either portal hypertension or hepatocellular carcinoma, and the sometimes-relentless course to cirrhosis, which is characterized by a progressive lassitude, fatigue, anorexia, jaundice, spider angiomas, splenomegaly, and ascites. Bleeding from varices, hepatic encephalopathy, hepatorenal syndrome, and coagulation abnormalities occur as liver failure ensues. Death occurs, generally at age 30 years, if emergent liver transplantation is not performed.

Unfortunately, Wilson disease has other systemic consequences of copper overload. Most patients who present with neuropsychiatric manifestations have cirrhosis. The reported percentage of patients with psychiatric symptoms as the presenting clinical feature is 10%-20%. The range of psychiatric abnormalities associated with Wilson disease extends from behavioral/mood state disturbances through movement disorders (occasionally choreoathetoid) or parkinsonian features. These features, on occasion, can be made worse with chelation therapy.

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