British Liver Trust
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AZATHIAPRINE and pain in back kidney area under ribcage

Well I have been taking Azathiaprine for two weeks and wonder how quick they work. On Friday got some slight pain in the back area and now it is slightly worse. Have MRI scan next week to see about the lesions - scared, not the actual scan but what it is going to reveal. I asked my GP why it takes so long to get a scan date and she said she doesn't know why but some people waitng anything from 6-12 months. It was the consultant who arranged this as had a ultrasound but it was /will be nearly 2 months from the us that I have this appt. And it says Amber on the request. I wonder if anyone had an similar experience?

4 Replies

Hi daisy.

Azathioprine takes 4-6 weeks to reach its fullest effect. The normal dosage is 1mg per kilo of bodyweight per day. When someone is first diagnosed with AIH they are normally put on prednisolone to bring the liver function back to normal and then Aza is introduced while you are 'weaned' off the prednisolone. How long ago were you diagnosed with AIH and how come it has taken so long to start you on Aza. Were you on a different drug before?

When did you last have your kidney function checked and what was the result?

Its more common for Aza to affect the white blood count than kidney function. During the first 8 weeks of treatment a full blood count should be taken at least once weekly, after that monthly. If you have been on the drug for two weeks you should have had a baseline Full Blood count and then another one round about now.

Re the scan. Unless there is something sinister on the MRI, you may have to wait a few weeks (or at least until your next appointment with your consultant) for the results.


Hello, I was diagnosed about 10 years ago, but quite truthfully was not fully aware of the effects etc as felt quite well, I also have PBC as well as AIH & Cirrohosis and other problems but I just got with it but two years ago diagnosed with varices and portal and was told that a splenectomy would be the best way forward, anyhow after spending 4 weeks in hospital because the op had also damaged pancreas I came out and had a mini TIA well the last year had some pain in right area and tried Myclopenolate but because it caused a great deal of pain in tummy was told to stop. I has only been two weeks been on Aza and 10mg pred and other drugs such as beta blockers Ursodeoycholic etc. They said it is something pressing on gallbladder hence the toothache pain I get, however since Friday painful, but touch wood it is calming down. I had bloods done last week and then some more before the consultants apt FBC, UE,LFT etc.

Thank you for getting back


I had acute pain in the area you described once too. I thought it was my kidneys. It turned out to be my spleen and it was another charming symptom of my liver failing. They couldn't really do anything about it, but they said the pain would pass, and it did.

Unless you're in extreme pain, they won't do an emergency scan. I guess it helped I was on the transplant list, too.

I really hope that it is not your kidneys.

Good luck!! Let us know how it goes.



Goodness daisy that's quite a tale.

I'm still surprised that you were diagnosed with AIH 10 years ago but not treated for it until recently? It sounds like doing nothing caused the cirrhosis, varices and portal vein problem. I'm also surprised you were tried on mycophenolate first, before the Aza. Its a much more expensive drug and not so many hepatologists have experience with it. The first line treatment for AIH (which ideally you would have been put on 10 years ago) is prednisolone followed by Azathioprine.

Did they not suggest beta blockers for the portal vein and banding for the varices before whipping out your spleen?

Can you explain a bit about the connection between gallbladder and toothache pain. I have toothache pain on the right side which got better when I was on high dose prednisolone but has come back again now I have been weaned off. I had an abscess which was root canal filled so I assumed this was the cause of the pain, but I still get pain in the jaw, sinus and headaches.

Hopefully your upcoming consultants appointment will clarify whats up with the back pain.


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