Portacaval transposition (PCT) in rats results in a smaller loss of body mass and liver mass than end-to-side portacaval shunt (PCS). Detailed studies of liver function, mass and histology were not previously available and have been undertaken in two different strains of growing rat in order to define the value of this model. PCT rats gained weight normally, while only 50% of PCS rats regained their preoperative weight by the tenth week. Wet and dry weights of liver fell relative to control values after both operations, but the fall was significantly greater after PCS than after PCT: there were parallel changes in hepatocyte size. There was a marked rise in liver-associated enzymes in the first 2 days after PCS only, and minimal enzyme elevations persisted in this group. The extent of cellular damage seen histologically closely parallelled the rise in SGOT in individual rats. At 72 hr, PCS rats showed focal necrotic changes, and by 10 weeks there was marked fatty infiltration: PCT rats had normal histology or showed minimal changes.
PCT therefore provides a model in which there is total portal diversion without the more severe effects of the conventional PCS on hepatic structure and function. This has particular value in studies of experimental hepatic encephalopathy, of hormonal and amino acid changes after portal diversion, and of factors initiating or controlling liver regeneration.