The effects of ethanol administration on portal pressure and gastroesophageal collateral blood flow in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis



The pathogenesis of variceal hemorrhage is not well understood. Portal pressure and gastroesophageal collateral (azygous) blood flow are similar in patients with cirrhosis with or without a history of variceal bleeding. However, acute increases in these parameters in individual patients might predispose them to variceal rupture.

Fifteen patients with alcoholic cirrhosis and portal hypertension were evaluated to test the hypothesis that ethanol intake acutely increases portal pressure or gastroesophageal blood flow and is a possible risk factor in variceal hemorrhage. A 10% solution of ethanol in 5% dextrose in water was infused intravenously at a rate sufficient to raise the blood-alcohol level to 100 mg/dl over 30 min. Eight patients received ethanol 5% dextrose in water; seven patients received a placebo (5% dextrose in water alone). Ethanol did not produce a significant change in wedged hepatic-vein pressure, free hepatic-vein pressure, azygous blood flow, mean arterial pressure or heart rate compared with the effects of 5% dextrose in water alone.

Acute administration of ethanol does not increase portal pressure or gastroesophageal blood flow. It is unlikely that acute ethanol ingestion is a risk factor for variceal hemorrhage.(HEPATOLOGY 1990; 11:674-677.)