Patients with thrombosis of the portal or splenic vein may develop portal hypertension with bleeding from oesophageal or gastric varices. The relevant portal pressure cannot be measured by liver vein catheterization or transhepatic puncture of the portal vein because the obstruction is peripheral to the accessible part of the portal system.Methods
Liver vein catheterization was combined with percutaneous splenic pressure measurement in 10 patients with portal or splenic vein thrombosis and no cirrhosis, and 10 cirrhotic patients without thrombosis. The splenic pressure was measured by percutaneous puncture below the curvature of the ribs with an angle of the needle to skin of 30° in order to minimize the risk of cutting the spleen if the patient took a deep breath.Results
None of the patients in whom the described procedure was followed had complications. Pressure measurements in the spleen pulp and splenic vein were concordant. The pressure gradient across the portal venous system (splenic-to-wedged hepatic vein pressure) was −1.3 to 8.5 mmHg (median, 2.8 mmHg) in cirrhosis patients and 0–44 mmHg (median, 18 mmHg) in thrombosis patients, the variation reflecting various degrees of obstruction to flow in the portal venous system. Peripheral portal pressure (splenic-to-free liver vein pressure gradient) was 1.1–28 mmHg (median, 17 mmHg) in cirrhotic patients and 11–52 mmHg (median, 23 mmHg) in thrombosis patients.Conclusions
Liver vein catheterization combined with percutaneous splenic pressure measurement is feasible in quantifying pressure gradient across a thrombosis of the portal/splenic vein and in quantifying portal pressure peripheral to this kind of thrombosis.