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Budd-Chiari syndrome


Hepatic vein obstruction refers to a blockage of the hepatic vein, which carries blood away from the liver.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Hepatic vein obstruction prevents blood from flowing out of the liver and back to the heart. This blockage can cause liver damage. Obstruction of this vein can be caused by masses pressing on the vessel (tumor) or by thrombus (clot) formation within the vessel.

Most often, it is caused by conditions which increase the body's propensity to form blood clots. These include:

Myeloproliferative disorders -- abnormal proliferation of cells from the bone marrow
Oral contraceptives and pregnancy


Right-sided abdominal pain and a large liver
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
Ascites (swelling of the abdomen due to the development of fluid in the abdomen)
Vomiting blood
Signs and tests    Return to top

Elevated results of liver function tests
Ultrasound of the liver
CT scan or MRI of the abdomen
Liver biopsy


Treatment varies, depending on the cause of the obstruction, and may include the following:

Medical therapy for symptoms
Anticoagulation medications
Surgical interventions
Radiological procedures
Complications    Return to top

Hepatic vein obstruction can progress to liver failure, which can be fatal.
Calling your health care provider    Return to top

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of hepatic vein obstruction or if you are undergoing treatment and any new symptoms develop.

Update Date: 10/27/2002

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