Hepatic ischemiaIschemic hepatitis; Shock liver
Hepatic ischemia is a condition in which the liver does not get enough blood or oxygen. This causes injury to liver cells.
Low blood pressure from any condition can lead to hepatic ischemia. Such conditions may include:
Low blood pressure
Low blood pressure occurs when blood pressure is much lower than normal. This means the heart, brain, and other parts of the body may not get enough...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Other causes may include:
- Blood clots in the main artery to the liver (hepatic artery) after a liver transplant
- Inflammation of blood vessels, leading to reduced blood flow (vasculitis)
- Heat stroke
- Having a sickle cell crisis
The person may have altered mental status due to reduced blood flow to the brain. Other symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling of general discomfort
Damage to the liver cells most often does not cause symptoms until it affects liver function.
Blood clots in the liver's main artery may cause abdominal pain.
Exams and Tests
The following tests will be done:
- Blood tests to check liver function (AST and ALT). These readings can be very high (in the thousands) with ischemia.
The aspartate aminotransferase (AST) blood test measures the level of the enzyme AST in the blood.Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Doppler ultrasound of the blood vessels of the liver.
Treatment depends on the cause. Low blood pressure and blood clots must be treated right away.
People generally recover if the illness causing hepatic ischemia can be treated. Death from liver failure due to hepatic ischemia is very rare.
Liver failure is a rare, but fatal complication.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Shock is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body is not getting enough blood flow. Lack of blood flow means the cells and organs do n...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Dehydration occurs when your body does not have as much water and fluids as it needs. Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe, based on how much...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Quickly treating the causes of low blood pressure may prevent hepatic ischemia.
Korenblat KM, Berk PD. Approach to the patient with jaundice or abnormal liver tests. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 138.
Nery FG, Valla DC. Vascular diseases of the liver. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 85.
Williams MJ, Gordon-Walker TT. Hepatology. In: Penman ID, Ralston SH, Strachan MWJ, Hobson RP, eds. Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 24.
Review Date: 5/4/2022
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.