Vascular Anomalies of the Pediatric Liver

Radiographics. 2019 May-Jun;39(3):842-856. doi: 10.1148/rg.2019180146.


The liver is a unique organ as it receives afferent blood supply from the umbilical vein, portal vein, and hepatic artery in the developing embryo but has only one efferent drainage method, through the hepatic veins. In the postnatal period, about 70% of the afferent blood flow into the liver is from the portal venous system, unique vessels that begin and end in a capillary system. Vascular anomalies of the hepatic artery, hepatic veins, portal vein, and/or umbilical vein can be congenital or acquired secondary to inflammation and/or infection, trauma, systemic disorders, or iatrogenic causes. The vascular anomalies can be incidental findings at imaging, or the infant or child can present with symptoms such as abdominal pain and ascites, be diagnosed with gastrointestinal bleeding, and have abnormal liver function test results. Imaging can demonstrate vascular findings such as shunts, thrombosis, or collaterals; secondary parenchymal findings such as diffuse or focal abnormal enhancement patterns; and parenchymal lesions such as regenerative nodules. This article discusses and illustrates vascular disorders of the liver that may be encountered in the pediatric population. These include (a) normal vascular variants; (b) congenital anomalies (preduodenal portal vein and infradiaphragmatic total anomalous pulmonary venous return); (c) acquired thromboses (extrahepatic portal venous thrombosis); (d) inflammatory vascular conditions, which can result in hepatic artery aneurysms or pseudoaneurysms; (e) hepatic venous outflow disorders (veno-occlusive disease); and shunt lesions. Liver transplantation and associated vascular complications are a large topic and will not be reviewed in this article. Knowledge of the vascular and parenchymal changes seen with these entities can aid imaging diagnosis and guide appropriate management. ©RSNA, 2019.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnostic imaging
  • Biological Variation, Individual
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hepatic Artery / abnormalities*
  • Hepatic Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Hepatic Veins / abnormalities*
  • Hepatic Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Hepatic Veno-Occlusive Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Liver / blood supply*
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver / embryology
  • Liver / growth & development
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Portal Vein / abnormalities*
  • Portal Vein / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color
  • Umbilical Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Venous Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging