What causes liver related abdominal pain? Do patients with chronic liver disease typically have liver-related abdominal pain?
Most chronic liver diseases, such as viral hepatitis, alcoholic cirrhosis, and fatty liver disease, do not cause abdominal pain. Instead, they may present with complications such as jaundice, variceal bleeding, or ascites. Liver-related pain is caused by stretching of the liver capsule, called Glisson’s capsule. The hepatic parenchyma is insensitive to pain.
Disorders that cause stretch on Glisson’s capsule and thus cause liver-related abdominal pain include:
- • Acute viral hepatitis—Inflammation and swelling of the liver can cause capsular stretch.
- • Budd-Chiari syndrome—A blood clot in the hepatic vein or inferior vena cava (IVC) obstructs venous outflow from the liver, which can cause engorgement of the hepatic venous system and stretch on Glisson’s capsule.
- • Masses—A rapidly growing hepatic lesion can cause distortion of the normal liver architecture and stretch Glisson’s capsule.