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Hepatic ischemia

Contents of this page:


Liver blood supply
Liver blood supply

Alternative Names    Return to top

Ischemic hepatitis; Shock liver

Definition    Return to top

Hepatic ischemia is a condition in which the liver does not get enough blood or oxygen, causing injury to liver cells.

Causes    Return to top

Low blood pressure from any condition can lead to hepatic ischemia. Such conditions may include:

Other causes may include:

Symptoms    Return to top

If low blood pressure continues for a long time, you may feel weak and light-headed. However, the period of low blood pressure may be brief and produce no symptoms. Damage to the liver cells usually does not cause symptoms.

Exams and Tests    Return to top

Blood levels of liver enzymes such as AST and ALT typically rise 1-3 days after the episode of low blood pressure. Levels of another enzyme in the blood, LDH, are also usually high.

Treatment    Return to top

Treatment depends on the cause of the low blood pressure. Low blood pressure must be treated so that the liver receives enough blood. The illness causing the problem must also be treated.

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

Patients generally recover if the illness causing hepatic ischemia can be treated. Death from liver failure due to hepatic ischemia is very rare.

Possible Complications    Return to top

Liver failure is a rare but life-threatening complication.

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

See your health care provider right away if you have persistent weakness or symptoms of shock or dehydration.

Prevention    Return to top

Quickly treating the causes of low blood pressure may prevent hepatic ischemia.

References    Return to top

Jain R, Thiele D. Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Manifestations of Systemic Diseases. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Sleisenger MH, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2006:chap 34.

Update Date: 8/22/2008

Updated by: Christian Stone, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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