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Liver Transpl. 2012 Aug;18(8):966-71. doi: 10.1002/lt.23453.

Contrast-enhanced ultrasound diagnosis of splenic artery steal syndrome after orthotopic liver transplantation.

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Department of Ultrasound, Xinqiao Hospital, Third Military University, Chongqiang, China.


The aim of this study was to investigate the use of contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) for the detection of splenic artery steal syndrome (SASS) after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). Two hundred forty-seven patients underwent OLT. Blood tests and color Doppler flow imaging (CDFI) were performed at various time points after the operation. CEUS and celiac angiography were used for patients suspected of having SASS. If the diagnosis of SASS was confirmed, splenic artery embolization was performed to enhance hepatic artery flow. CEUS and angiography were performed for the assessment of postinterventional clinical outcomes. Three of the 247 patients died postoperatively, and 8 patients were suspected of having SASS because of elevated liver enzyme levels and slim or undetectable hepatic artery blood signals by CDFI at various points after the operation. In these 8 patients, CEUS showed a delayed and weak contrast-enhanced blood signal in the hepatic artery associated with a rapid and intense enhancement of the portal vein blood. No narrowing of the hyperintense signal was observed in the hepatic artery by CEUS. The 8 diagnoses of SASS were proven by celiac angiography, which showed delayed perfusion of the hepatic artery and rapid filling of the splenic artery. Immediately after the interventional procedure, CEUS demonstrated a significantly enlarged hyperintense blood signal in the hepatic artery. In conclusion, approximately 3.27% of SASS cases occur after OLT. SASS can be identified as a sluggish and weak hyperintense blood signal in the hepatic artery without the narrowing and interruption of the hypointense signal in CEUS imaging. CEUS is an effective imaging modality for the detection of SASS after OLT.

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