Click here to return to the LMHS Home Page



Hepatic ischemia

Ischemic hepatitis; Shock liver


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



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

  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Dehydration
  • Heart failure
  • Infection
  • Severe bleeding

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:

  • Blood tests to check liver function (AST and ALT )
  • Doppler ultrasound of the liver's blood vessels




Treatment depends on the cause. Low blood pressure and blood clots must be properly treated.


Outlook (Prognosis)


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


Liver failure is a rare but life-threatening complication.


When to Contact a Medical Professional


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




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.

BACK TO TOPText only

  • Liver blood supply

    Liver blood supply


    • Liver blood supply

      Liver blood supply


    A Closer Look


      Tests for Hepatic ischemia


        Review Date: 8/11/2014

        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.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.




        A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.