Ischemic hepatitis is diffuse liver damage due to an inadequate blood or O2 supply.
Causes are most often systemic:
Focal lesions of the hepatic vasculature are less common causes. Ischemic hepatitis may develop when hepatic artery thrombosis occurs during liver transplantation or when thrombosis of the portal vein and hepatic artery develops in a patient with sickle cell crisis (thus compromising the dual blood supply to the liver). Centrizonal necrosis develops without liver inflammation (ie, not true hepatitis).
Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and tender hepatomegaly.
Ischemic hepatitis is suspected in patients who have risk factors and laboratory abnormalities:
Diagnostic imaging helps define the cause: Doppler ultrasonography, MRI, or arteriography can identify an obstructed hepatic artery or portal vein thrombosis.
Treatment is directed at the cause, aiming to restore hepatic perfusion, particularly by improving cardiac output and reversing any hemodynamic instability.
If perfusion is restored, aminotransferase decreases over 1 to 2 wk. In most cases, liver function is fully restored. Fulminant liver failure, although uncommon, can occur in patients with preexisting cirrhosis.
Last full review/revision September 2013 by Nicholas T. Orfanidis, MD
Content last modified October 2013