What outcomes may be expected with AIH?
Autoimmune hepatitis is a chronic disease, so it can never be cured. However, most cases can be controlled with medication. Many patients will respond well to the treatment with subsequent remission of liver inflammation. If inflammation is well controlled and disease is detected at an early stage, it is generally thought that patients will have normal life spans. Most patients will require lifelong immunosuppression. This is particularly important because the risk of relapse of inflammation is high if medication is removed. In a very few instances, experienced doctors may feel comfortable removing medication if certain criteria are met. However, close clinical observation will be important (medication removed or not). It is expected that patients with autoimmune hepatitis will live normal lives. Yet, clinical approaches to lessen associated symptoms, such as fatigue, may be important in some. Patients with evidence of continued inflammation (commonly by abnormal labs), may be at risk of fibrosis progression. Fibrosis is a healing mechanism in the liver. This is a normal response to ongoing liver injury, yet can be problematic if it is extensive. This scarring may progress to cirrhosis and end-stage liver failure. These patients may require evaluation for other treatment strategies and possibly liver transplantation.