What is the role of xanthomas in the pathophysiology of cholestasis?

Updated: Aug 09, 2017
  • Author: Hisham Nazer, MBBCh, FRCP, DTM&H; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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Answer

Xanthomas may result from the deposition of cholesterol into the dermis. The development of xanthomas is more characteristic of obstructive cholestasis than of hepatocellular cholestasis. Xanthomas may develop rapidly over a few months in acute extrahepatic biliary obstruction. Acutely developing xanthomas are usually the eruptive type, which are white pustular lesions pinpoint to 2 mm in diameter, that appear first on the trunk and in the diaper area. See the image below.

Eruptive xanthomas. Courtesy of Duke University Me Eruptive xanthomas. Courtesy of Duke University Medical Center.

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