Sinusoidal obstruction syndrome differential diagnosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Husnain Shaukat, M.D [2]

Overview

The differential diagnosis of sinusoidal obstruction syndrome includes other causes of hepatic failure that may have abnormal liver function tests such as increased conjugated bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase or a clinical presentation as right upper quadrant abdominal pain, jaundice or ascites.

Differential Diagnosis

Sinusoidal obstruction syndrome should be differentiated from other causes of hepatic failure like Budd-Chiari syndrome, viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, splenic vein thrombosis, portal vein thrombosis and inferior vena cava obstruction that may have a similar presentation with right upper quadrant abdominal pain and ascites. The differential diagnosis is as follows:

Condition Differentiating signs and symptoms Differentiating Tests
Budd-Chiari Syndrome
Cirrhosis

Ultrasound findings in cirrhosis are as follows:[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Abdominal MRI may also be helpful in the diagnosis of portal hypertension. Findings on MRI suggestive of cirrhosis with portal hypertension include:[9][10][11][12]

Transient elastography and the Acoustic Radiation Force Impulse (ARFI) technique are well-established methods for the staging of fibrosis in various liver diseases: [13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23] 

  • The FibroScan (transient elastography) uses elastic waves to determine liver stiffness which theoretically may be converted into a liver score.
  • The FibroScan produces an ultrasound image of the liver (from 20-80mm) along with a pressure reading (in kPa).
  • Transient elastography is much faster than a biopsy (usually lasts 2.5-5 minutes) and is completely painless.
  • Findings on transient elastography may show reasonable correlation with the severity of cirrhosis:[24][25]
Splenic vein thrombosis Signs and symptoms of:
Portal vein thrombosis
Schistosomiasis
Inferior vena cava obstruction
Nodular regenerative hyperplasia None
Idiopathic portal hypertension (hepatoportal sclerosis) None

Abbreviations: RUQ= Right upper quadrant of the abdomen, LUQ= Left upper quadrant, LLQ= Left lower quadrant, RLQ= Right lower quadrant, LFT= Liver function test, SIRS= Systemic inflammatory response syndrome, ERCP= Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, IV= Intravenous, N= Normal, AMA= Anti mitochondrial antibodies, LDH= Lactate dehydrogenase, GI= Gastrointestinal, CXR= Chest X ray, IgA= Immunoglobulin A, IgG= Immunoglobulin G, IgM= Immunoglobulin M, CT= Computed tomography, PMN= Polymorphonuclear cells, ESR= Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, CRP= C-reactive protein, TS= Transferrin saturation, SF= Serum Ferritin, SMA= Superior mesenteric artery, SMV= Superior mesenteric vein, ECG= Electrocardiogram

Disease Clinical manifestations Diagnosis Comments
Symptoms Signs
Abdominal Pain Fever Rigors and chills Nausea or vomiting Jaundice Constipation Diarrhea Weight loss GI bleeding Hypo-

tension

Guarding Rebound Tenderness Bowel sounds Lab Findings Imaging
Acute suppurative cholangitis RUQ + + + + + + + N
  • Abnormal LFT
  • WBC >10,000
  • Ultrasound shows biliary dilatation/stents/tumor
  • Septic shock occurs with features of SIRS
Acute cholangitis RUQ + + N
  • Ultrasound shows biliary dilatation/stents/tumor
  • Biliary drainage (ERCP) + IV antibiotics
Acute cholecystitis RUQ + + + Hypoactive Ultrasound shows:
  • Gallstone
  • Inflammation
Acute pancreatitis Epigastric + + ± ± N
  • Ultrasound shows evidence of inflammation
  • CT scan shows severity of pancreatitis
  • Pain radiation to back
Chronic pancreatitis Epigastric ± ± + + N
  • Increased amylase / lipase
  • Increased stool fat content
  • Pancreatic function test
CT scan
  • Calcification
  • Pseudocyst
  • Dilation of main pancreatic duct
  • Predisposes to pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic carcinoma Epigastric + + + + N

Skin manifestations may include:

Disease Abdominal Pain Fever Rigors and chills Nausea or vomiting Jaundice Constipation Diarrhea Weight loss GI bleeding Hypo-

tension

Guarding Rebound Tenderness Bowel sounds Lab Findings Imaging Comments
Primary biliary cirrhosis RUQ/Epigastric + N
  • Increased AMA level, abnormal LFTs
  • ERCP
  • Pruritis
Primary sclerosing cholangitis RUQ + + N ERCP and MRCP shows
  • Multiple segmental strictures
  • Mural irregularities
  • Biliary dilatation and diverticula
  • Distortion of biliary tree
  • The risk of cholangiocarcinoma in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis is 400 times higher than the risk in the general population.
Cholelithiasis RUQ/Epigastric ± ± ± Normal to hyperactive for dislodged stone
  • Fatty food intolerance
Gastrointestinal perforation Diffuse + ± - ± + + + ± Hyperactive/hypoactive
  • WBC> 10,000
Inflammatory bowel disease Diffuse ± ± + + + Normal or hyperactive

Extra intestinal findings:

Whipple's disease Diffuse ± ± + + ± N Endoscopy is used to confirm diagnosis.

Images used to find complications

Extra intestinal findings:
Disease Abdominal Pain Fever Rigors and chills Nausea or vomiting Jaundice Constipation Diarrhea Weight loss GI bleeding Hypo-

tension

Guarding Rebound Tenderness Bowel sounds Lab Findings Imaging Comments
Viral hepatitis RUQ + + + Positive in Hep A and E + Positive in fulminant hepatitis Positive in acute + N
  • Abnormal LFTs
  • Viral serology
  • US
  • Hep A and E have fecal-oral route of transmission
  • Hep B and C transmits via blood transfusion and sexual contact.
Liver abscess RUQ + + + + ± + + + ± Normal or hypoactive
  • US
  • CT
Hepatocellular carcinoma/Metastasis RUQ + + +
  • Normal
  • Hyperactive if obstruction present
  • US
  • CT
  • Liver biopsy

Other symptoms:

Disease Abdominal Pain Fever Rigors and chills Nausea or vomiting Jaundice Constipation Diarrhea Weight loss GI bleeding Hypo-

tension

Guarding Rebound Tenderness Bowel sounds Lab Findings Imaging Comments
Budd-Chiari syndrome RUQ ± ± Positive in liver failure leading to varices N
Findings on CT scan suggestive of Budd-Chiari syndrome include:
Ascitic fluid examination shows:
Cirrhosis RUQ + + + + N US
  • Stigmata of liver disease
  • Cruveilhier- Baumgarten murmur
Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis Diffuse + Positive in cirrhotic patients + ± + + Hypoactive
  • Ascitic fluid PMN>250 cells/mm³
  • Culture: Positive for single organism
  • Ultrasound for evaluation of liver cirrhosis
Biliary colic RUQ + + N
  • Ultrasound

Disease Clinical manifestations Diagnosis Comments
Symptoms Signs
Abdominal Pain Fever Rigors and chills Nausea or vomiting Jaundice Constipation Diarrhea Weight loss GI bleeding Hypo-

tension

Guarding Rebound Tenderness Bowel sounds Lab Findings Imaging
Portal vein thrombosis Diffuse ± + ± + + ± N
  • Usually normal
Chronic pancreatitis Epigastric ± ± + + N
  • Increased amylase / lipase
  • Increased stool fat content
  • Pancreatic function test
CT scan
  • Predisposes to pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic carcinoma Epigastric + + + + N

Skin manifestations may include:

Dumping syndrome Lower and then diffuse + + + + Hyperactive
  • Upper GI series
  • Gastric emptying study
  • Postgastrectomy
Disease Abdominal Pain Fever Rigors and chills Nausea or vomiting Jaundice Constipation Diarrhea Weight loss GI bleeding Hypo-

tension

Guarding Rebound Tenderness Bowel sounds Lab Findings Imaging Comments
Acute appendicitis Starts in epigastrium, migrates to RLQ + Positive in pyogenic appendicitis + ± Positive in perforated appendicitis + + Hypoactive
  • Ct scan
  • Ultrasound
  • Positive Rovsing sign
  • Positive Obturator sign
  • Positive Iliopsoas sign
Acute diverticulitis LLQ + ± + + ± + Positive in perforated diverticulitis + + Hypoactive
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound
Infective colitis Diffuse + ± + + Positive in fulminant colitis ± ± Hyperactive CT scan
  • Bowel wall thickening
  • Edema
Viral hepatitis RUQ + + + Positive in Hep A and E + Positive in fulminant hepatitis Positive in acute + N
  • Abnormal LFTs
  • Viral serology
  • US
  • Hep A and E have fecal-oral route of transmission
  • Hep B and C transmits via blood transfusion and sexual contact.
Liver abscess RUQ + + + + ± + + + ± Normal or hypoactive
  • US
  • CT
Mesenteric ischemia Periumbilical Positive if bowel becomes gangrenous + + + + Positive if bowel becomes gangrenous Positive if bowel becomes gangrenous Hyperactive to absent CT angiography
  • SMA or SMV thrombosis
  • Also known as abdominal angina that worsens with eating
Acute ischemic colitis Diffuse + ± + + + + + + + Hyperactive then absent Abdominal x-ray

CT scan

  • Double halo appearance, thumbprinting
  • Thickening of bowel
  • May lead to shock
Pneumonia RUQ/LUQ + + + ± + Normal or hypoactive
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough

Abbreviations: RUQ= Right upper quadrant of the abdomen, LUQ= Left upper quadrant, LLQ= Left lower quadrant, RLQ= Right lower quadrant, LFT= Liver function test, SIRS= Systemic inflammatory response syndrome, ERCP= Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, IV= Intravenous, N= Normal, AMA= Anti mitochondrial antibodies, LDH= Lactate dehydrogenase, GI= Gastrointestinal, CXR= Chest X ray, IgA= Immunoglobulin A, IgG= Immunoglobulin G, IgM= Immunoglobulin M, CT= Computed tomography, PMN= Polymorphonuclear cells, ESR= Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, CRP= C-reactive protein, TS= Transferrin saturation, SF= Serum Ferritin, SMA= Superior mesenteric artery, SMV= Superior mesenteric vein, ECG= Electrocardiogram, MRA= MR angiography, CEUS=Contrast enhanced ultrasound

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