Hepatic portal venous gas: physiopathology, etiology, prognosis and treatment

World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Aug 7;15(29):3585-90. doi: 10.3748/wjg.15.3585.


Hepatic portal venous gas (HPVG), an ominous radiologic sign, is associated in some cases with a severe underlying abdominal disease requiring urgent operative intervention. HPVG has been reported with increasing frequency in medical literature and usually accompanies severe or lethal conditions. The diagnosis of HPVG is usually made by plain abdominal radiography, sonography, color Doppler flow imaging or computed tomography (CT) scan. Currently, the increased use of CT scan and ultrasound in the inpatient setting allows early and highly sensitive detection of such severe illnesses and also the recognition of an increasing number of benign and non-life threatening causes of HPVG. HPVG is not by itself a surgical indication and the treatment depends mainly on the underlying disease. The prognosis is related to the pathology itself and is not influenced by the presence of HPVG. Based on a review of the literature, we discuss in this paper the pathophysiology, risk factors, radiographic findings, management, and prognosis of pathologies associated with HPVG.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Embolism, Air / etiology
  • Embolism, Air / pathology*
  • Gastroenteritis / etiology
  • Gastroenteritis / pathology
  • Gastroenteritis / physiopathology
  • Gastroenteritis / therapy
  • Humans
  • Intestines / blood supply*
  • Ischemia / pathology*
  • Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Portal Vein / pathology*
  • Portal Vein / physiopathology
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors


  • Antineoplastic Agents