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Background:

Intravenous octreotide is an established treatment of oesophageal variceal haemorrhage in the cirrhotic patient.

Aim:

To examine the organ extraction and splanchnic haemodynamic effects of octreotide in cirrhotic patients with portal hypertension.

Methods:

Thirteen patients with cirrhosis had hepatic venous catheterization performed. Hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG), indocyanine green (ICG) clearance and hepatic blood flow (HBF) were determined in the basal state and during 60 min of octreotide infusion by bolus injection (0.75 μg/kg) followed by continuous infusion of 0.75 μg/kg.h. Blood samples were simultaneously drawn from the femoral artery and the hepatic and renal veins.

Results:

The extraction fraction of octreotide in the liver was 0.05 (− 0.01–0.14) (median (interquartile range)) and in the kidneys 0.16 (− 0.06–0.35). The extraction fraction ratio (Eliver/Ekidney) was 0.69 (− 0.20–1.06). Hepatic clearance was 47 mL/min (3–88) (n = 11). No correlations were found between liver biochemistry or galactose elimination capacity (GEC; a metabolic measure of liver function) and renal extraction fraction or liver clearance. Octreotide had no effect on HVPG or wedged hepatic venous pressure although free hepatic venous pressure increased during octreotide infusion: 6 mmHg (5–9) vs. 7 mmHg (6–10) (= 0.02). No effect on HBF was observed while ICG clearance decreased significantly.

Conclusions:

Octreotide is extracted in cirrhotic patients by both the liver and the kidney, the latter being the most important organ of elimination. Octreotide decreases liver metabolic activity determined by the ICG clearance technique, but no significant effects of octreotide on HVPG or HBF could be demonstrated.