Background Dramatic transient elevation in serum concentrations of hepatic enzymes occurs in some patients following a hypo-perfusion state. This entity is variously termed "shock liver" or "ischemic hepatitis", since the pathogenesis is considered to be ischemia. However, hypotension or shock is not always present.
Methods We analyzed the medical records of 293 patients (322 episodes) who had a hypoxic state and were admitted to the critical care units of two general hospitals over a 13-year period.
Results Hepatic injury was identified in about 1% of patients in critical care admissions. In addition to hypotension, the causes for hepatic injury were a low flow state secondary to congestive heart failure and hypoxia from sepsis or respiratory failure and hypoxemia from a variety of etiologies. These values were mostly normalized within several days when the hypoxic etiology was corrected and a serious co-morbid state did not intervene.
Conclusion Marked elevation of hepatic enzymes can be identified not only in patients with hypotension, but also in normotensive patients in hypoxic state. Thus, the condition is appropriately termed hypoxic hepatopathy.
2007 by The Japanese Society of Internal Medicine