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Hepatic ischemia is a condition in which the liver does not get enough blood or oxygen, causing injury to liver cells.
Ischemic hepatitis; Shock liver
Low blood pressure from any condition can lead to hepatic ischemia. Such conditions may include:
Other causes may include:
- Blood clots in the main artery to the liver (hepatic artery) after a liver transplant
- Swelling of blood vessels leading to reduced blood flow (vasculitis)
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 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:
Treatment depends on the cause. Low blood pressure and blood clots must be properly treated.
Patients 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 life-threatening complication.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Quickly treating the causes of low blood pressure may prevent hepatic ischemia.
Hauser SC. Vascular diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 145.
Stevens WE, Patil A. Vascular disease of the liver. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 83.
Reviewed By: Jennifer K. Lehrer, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Frankford-Torresdale Hospital, Aria Health System, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.