Hypoxic hepatitis: A review and clinical update

Najeff Waseem, Po Hung Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Hypoxic hepatitis (HH), also known as ischemic hepatitis or shock liver, is characterized by a massive, rapid rise in serum aminotransferases resulting from reduced oxygen delivery to the liver. The most common predisposing condition is cardiac failure, followed by circulatory failure as occurs in septic shock and respiratory failure. HH does, however, occur in the absence of a documented hypotensive event or shock state in 50% of patients. In intensive care units, the incidence of HH is near 2.5%, but has been reported as high as 10% in some studies. The pathophysiology is multifactorial, but often involves hepatic congestion from right heart failure along with reduced hepatic blood flow, total body hypoxemia, reduced oxygen uptake by hepatocytes or reperfusion injury following ischemia. The diagnosis is primarily clinical, and typically does not require liver biopsy. The definitive treatment of HH involves correction of the underlying disease state, but successful management includes monitoring for the potential complications such as hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, hyperammonemia and hepatopulmonary syndrome. Prognosis of HH remains poor, especially for cases in which there was a delay in diagnosis. The in-hospital mortality rate is >50%, and the most frequent cause of death is the predisposing condition and not the liver injury itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-268
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical and Translational Hepatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Hepatitis
  • Hypoxia
  • Ischemia
  • Liver injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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