Hemolytic anemia in alcoholic liver disease: Zieve syndrome: A case report and literature review

Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Nov;96(47):e8742. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000008742.


Rationale: Zieve syndrome, a rarely reported disease resulting from alcohol abuse, consists of a triad of symptoms: hemolytic anemia, cholestatic jaundice, and transient hyperlipidemia. It is largely under-recognized and under-reported, possibly because of unawareness of the condition by physicians. Here, we report a case of Zieve syndrome managed at the Jilin University First Bethune Hospital.

Patient concerns: A 30-year-old Chinese woman presented with a 4-month history of fatigue, yellowish discoloration of the eyes, and tea-colored urine. She had been a heavy drinker for 2 years prior to onset of the disease with an average daily alcohol intake of 60 g/d and more than 80 g/d for the previous 6 months.

Diagnosis: The diagnosis of Zieve syndrome was confirmed based on hemolysis and cholestatic jaundice secondary to alcoholic liver disease and heavy drinking. Bone marrow biopsy and liver biopsy both supported the diagnosis.

Interventions: We treated her with abstinence from alcohol and supportive therapy.

Outcomes: The patient was discharged 14 days after admission with an improvement in symptoms, which continued to subside during the 2-month follow-up period.

Lessons: Doctors confronted with hemolysis in a patient with alcoholic liver disease should be aware of the under-reported Zieve syndrome. Recognition of this syndrome could help doctors avoid unnecessary invasive procedures and emphasize the importance of alcohol abstinence as the mainstay of management. Glucocorticoids may not be useful in treating hemolytic anemia in Zieve syndrome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Hemolytic / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / etiology
  • Jaundice / etiology
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / complications*
  • Syndrome