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Eur J Ultrasound. 1998 Nov;8(2):119-23.

Doppler ultrasound evaluation of advanced portal vein pulsatility in patients with normal echocardiograms.

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Department of Medical Imaging, King Fahad National Guard Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


The hypothesis tested that mechanisms other than retrograde transsinusoidal fluid wave transfer reported in patients with right heart failure are responsible for the ultrasonographic sign of advanced portal vein pulsatility (APP). Within a time-period of 3 years we have seen 13 patients with APP, defined as temporary portal flow reversal in the face of a normal echocardiogram. Nine of these patients had biopsy-proven liver cirrhosis and four with liver disease were without cirrhosis or cardiac pathology. A randomly selected control group of 18 healthy subjects was studied. Doppler ultrasound evaluation of the hepatic veins as well as the intra and extrahepatic portal vein territories was performed in both groups. Hepatopetal portal flow with APP reversed to hepatofugal flow in follow up studies in two patients. In another two hepatopetal flow with APP in the main portal vein and hepatofugal flow in the intrahepatic portal radicles was recorded during the same examination. The remaining group displayed APP in the intra and extrahepatic portal vein territories. None of the normal subjects presented with APP. Hepatic venous outflow obstruction associated with excessive arterioportal shunting is likely to account for APP of all of our patients. Based on a causal link between angiographic 'to-and-fro' flow pattern and the sonographic APP sign in patients with sinusoidal outflow obstruction we suggest, that APP expresses a short, transitional period of portal hypertension just before the occurence of flow reversal.

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