Diminished postprandial portal hyperemia has been demonstrated by echo-Doppler flowmetry in patients with liver cirrhosis, but its diagnostic role is unclear. This prospective study was therefore undertaken in patients with varying severity of portal hypertension and degree of liver cirrhosis.Methods:
Portal flowmetry was performed in 66 patients with cirrhosis and 20 healthy volunteers during fasting and 30 min after ingestion of a standardized meal. Hemodynamic parameters were related to the degree of esophageal varices, variceal bleeding, portal hypertensive gastropathy and Child-Pugh score.Results:
The postprandial portal blood velocity increment was low in patients with esophageal varices of any degree (22-24%), compared to patients without varices (49%, p<0.01) and healthy controls (65%,p<0.001), but was not different in patients with or without variceal bleeding (22% vs. 20%). In contrast, the congestion index (CI; ratio of portal vein cross-sectional area and portal blood velocity) pre-/postprandial decreased in the bleeding group only (CI pre/CI post 1.30±0.23 (no bleeding) vs. 0.86±0.29 (bleeding);p<0.01). Portal hypertensive gastropathy was not related to any of the portal flow parameters. The portal blood velocity increment was comparable in controls (65%) and patients with Child-Pugh class A cirrhosis(56%), but lower in patients with class B (32%) and class C cirrhosis (15%,p<0.05 vs. class A). Also, there was no postprandial decrease in congestion index in patients with the most severe cirrhosis(p<0.01 class C vs. class A and B).Conclusions:
The postprandial rise in portal flow is inversely related to the severity of portal hypertension and liver cirrhosis, and may be a valuable parameter with respect to the risk of variceal bleeding.