Understanding a Bruised Liver
A bruise (contusion) is a type of injury. It occurs when small blood vessels break open and leak blood into nearby tissues. The liver is a large organ located in the upper right part of the belly (abdomen). It sits under the right ribs. It can become bruised after an injury to the area.
What causes a bruised liver?
Common causes of a bruised liver include:
Direct blows to your belly. This may happen while playing a sport or while in a physical fight.
Falls that injure your belly
Symptoms of a bruised liver
You may feel pain and tenderness in the upper right part of your belly. You may also feel pain under your right ribs, in the right side of your chest, or in your right shoulder. In some cases, you may have bruised skin over the injured area.
Treatment for a bruised liver
Treatment for a bruised liver depends on how severe the injury is. Many cases can often be managed without surgery. But you may still need:
Close monitoring in the hospital
Bed rest and IV (intravenous) fluids
Tests to check for blood loss and other injuries
For a minor bruise
For a minor bruise with little blood loss, you may be discharged from the hospital within a few days. Home care may involve further rest. You may also need to stop some activities until your liver heals. You may also need follow-up care with your healthcare provider.
For a severe case
For severe blood loss or if other injuries are involved, you may need a procedure or surgery. These may be used to:
Drain excess fluids or blood from your belly
Find and stop the source of bleeding in your liver or belly
Fix damage to your liver and other injuries as needed
Possible complications of a bruised liver
These can include:
Severe blood loss, which can lead to shock
Problems with the pathways (bile ducts) that carry bile from the liver to nearby organs
Abdominal compartment syndrome. This occurs when pressure in the belly is higher than normal.
Call 911 right away if you have signs of shock. These include:
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these:
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your provider
Symptoms that don’t get better with treatment, or get worse
Yellowish skin or eyes (jaundice)
September 04, 2017
Christmas AB, Jacobs DG. Management of hepatic trauma in adults. Up To Date. November 24 ed: Up To Date; 2015., Dandelinger RF. Management of Trauma to the Liver and Spleen. In: Mauro MA, et al, editors. Image Guided Interventions. 2 ed. Phlildelphia: Saunders; 2014. p. 491-502., Gabriel H, et al. Hepatic Trauma, Surgery, and Liver-Directed Therapy. In: Gore RM, et al, editors. Textbook of Gastrointestinal Radiology. 4 ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2015. p. 1706-36., Keith JN, et al. Hepatic and Biliary Trauma. In: Harken AH, et al, editors. Abernathy's Surgical Secrets. 6 ed. Philadelphia: Mosby; 2009. p. 130-5., Kraut EH. Easy Bruising. Up To Date. August 17 ed: Up To Date; 2015. p. 24.
Images Reviewed by Staywell medical art team.,Lehrer, Jennifer K, MD,Ziegler, Olivia, MS, PA