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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 21, Issue 5, Pages 309-313
Brief Communication

Hepatic Portal Venous Gas: A Report of Two Cases and a Review of the Epidemiology, Pathogenesis, Diagnosis and Approach to Management

Saleh Alqahtani,1,2 Carla S Coffin,1,2 Kelly Burak,1,2 Fred Chen,3 John MacGregor,3 and Paul Beck1

1Gastrointestinal Research Group, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
2Liver Unit, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
3Department of Radiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Received 26 June 2006; Accepted 27 June 2006

Copyright © 2007 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Hepatic portal venous gas (HPVG) is a rare condition that occurs when intraluminal gas and/or gas produced by intestinal bacteria enters the portal venous circulation. The most common precipitating factors include ischemia, intra-abdominal abscesses and inflammatory bowel disease. However, HPVG has recently been recognized as a rare complication of endoscopic and radiological procedures. Earlier studies advised immediate surgical intervention, but according to current recommendations, in some settings, HPVG can be managed conservatively. The present study reports two cases of HPVG; one that occurred following colonoscopy in a patient with severe Crohn’s disease and one in a patient with graft-versus-host disease.

METHODS: The epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis and management of HPVG are reviewed. Two case reports are presented, followed by the development of a management algorithm.

RESULTS: Of the two patients that developed HPVG, one was an outpatient undergoing a colonoscopy for assessment of Crohn’s disease activity and the other was an inpatient with graft-versus-host disease. Once the diagnosis of HPVG was made, both patients were managed conservatively with antibiotic therapy and management of their underlying disease.

CONCLUSIONS: HPVG can occur in the setting of severe gastrointestinal disease states and following endoscopic procedures. It is critical that gastroenterologists are aware of the differential diagnosis, pathogenesis, diagnostic approach and management of HPVG.