Hepatic vein obstruction (Budd-Chiari)


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

Alternative Names

Budd-Chiari syndrome; Hepatic veno-occlusive disease


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 a tumor or growth pressing on the vessel, or by a clot in the vessel (hepatic vein thrombosis).

Most often, it is caused by conditions that make blood clots more likely to form, including:

Hepatic vein obstruction is the most common cause of Budd-Chiari syndrome.


Exams and Tests

One of the signs is swelling of the abdomen from fluid buildup (ascites). The liver is often swollen and tender.

Tests include:


Treatment varies, depending on the cause of the blockage.

Your doctor may recommend the following medicines:

Surgery may be recommended. This may involve:

Possible Complications

Hepatic vein obstruction can get worse and lead to liver failure, which can be life-threatening.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:


Hauser SC. Vascular diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 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: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 83.

Review Date: 8/10/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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