The clinical course of biliary atresia patients is extremely variable. To optimize conservative treatment and correctly schedule liver transplantation, noninvasive investigations that are predictive of individual survival and that can be performed regularly are needed. In this study, the prognostic value of Doppler sonography was investigated in these patients.Methods:
Thirty biliary atresia patients (age range, 1 month to 15.2 years; mean, 4.0 years) and 38 control subjects underwent standardized Doppler sonography of liver and spleen. Biochemical tests of liver function and of fibrogenesis were performed in parallel. Individual clinical outcome was registered 1 and 2 years later.Results:
In control subjects, maximum portal flow velocity (Vmax) was more than 16 cm/sec, and the hepatic vein flow pattern was triphasic. Among children with biliary atresia, those with diminished portal Vmax, a flattened hepatic vein flow curve, or a hepatic artery resistance index of 0.8 or more had significantly lower indices of hepatic protein synthesis (albumin, cholinesterase), higher bilirubin levels, and higher concentrations of markers of connective tissue turnover (procollagen peptides, laminin P1) than did those with normal Doppler sonography measurements. The rate of survival without transplantation during the following 2 years was significantly lower in children with abnormal Doppler findings. From portal and hepatic vein flow measurements, patient survival 2 years later could be predicted with an accuracy of 93%.Conclusions:
In children with extrahepatic biliary atresia, Doppler sonography of the hepatic blood flow is a noninvasive indicator of disease severity. Moreover, it allows a highly accurate prediction of patient survival for the following 2 years.