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Crohn’s disease symptoms and complications of liver

In Crohn’s disease there are several symptoms and complications associated with the liver and pancreas. According to an article published in 1971 in the International Journal of Medicine hundred patients were examined out of which 26 (i.e. 26%) of them had biochemical liver dysfunction.

39 patients had liver biopsy, out of which19 patients (19 per cent) had pathological changes in the liver. In this 19 % the common pathological changes in liver were pericholangitis found in 8%, focal necrosis found in 6%, and fatty change found in 4%. One patient had chronic active hepatitis and another had portal cirrhosis connected to haemosiderosis.

Common symptoms of liver in crohn’s disease are hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) or primary sclerosing cholangitis (inflammation of bile ducts). Bile ducts become narrow in sclerosing cholangitis and draining into the liver is obstructed. This causes yellowing of the skin and eye which is a common symptom for jaundice; recurrent bacterial infections; and liver cirrhosis which ultimately leads to liver failure. Occurrence of bile duct cancer also frequently complicates the condition.

According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, serious liver complications are seen to develop in approximately 5% of the Crohn’s patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease and 1% suffer from primary sclerosing cholangitis.

Liver inflammation:

Symptoms in crones patients with liver inflammation are fatigue and lack of energy. In severe cases symptoms are yellowing of the skin and eyes which is a common symptom for jaundice, itching all over the body, fluid retention resulting in swelling, and an uncomfortable full feeling in the upper abdomen.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis:

Primary sclerosing cholangitis, or PSC, is rarely seen to occur in crones patients and forms severe scarring and inflammation of bile ducts, narrow canals that connect the liver to the intestines. Symptoms in crones patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis include liver inflammation with nausea, itching and undesirable weight loss as well as jaundice. Women suffer from this disorder more than men.


Cancer of the bile ducts (cholangiocarcinoma) is a complication rarely seen among crones patients. This symptom is less commonly seen than PSC.

Hepatic steatosis:

Hepatic steatosis is a term used to describe fatty liver disease i.e. accumulation of fat in excess amount in the liver which results due to abnormal metabolism in the liver. This condition is considered to be a minor problem and seldom shows any symptoms in Crohn’s patients although if symptoms are seen, they may include pain in the liver area, unusual weight loss and severe tiredness (fatigue).


Patients who have reached the chronic stage of this disease or have removed their ileum via surgery have higher chances of facing this problem. Its progress may or may not be marked by symptoms. If symptoms show they may include nausea, vomiting, fever and pain in the upper part of abdomen particularly the right side and the right mid back portion.