Non-cirrhotic portal fibrosis: Current concepts and management


Dr SK Sarin, Professor and Head, Department of Gastroenterology, GB Pant Hospital, New Delhi, India. Email:


Abstract  Non-cirrhotic portal hypertension (NCPH) comprises diseases having an increase in portal pressure (PP) due to intraheptic or prehepatic lesions, in the absence of cirrhosis. The lesions are generally vascular, either in the portal vein, its branches or in the perisinusoidal area. Because the wedged hepatic venous pressure is near normal, measurement of intravariceal or intrasplenic pressure is needed to assess PP. The majority of diseases included in the category of NCPH are well-characterized disease entities where portal hypertension (PHT) is a late manifestation and, hence, these are not discussed. Two diseases that present only with features of PHT and are common in developing countries are non-cirrhotic portal fibrosis (NCPF) and extrahepatic portal vein obstruction (EHPVO). Non-cirrhotic portal fibrosis is a syndrome of obscure etiology, characterized by ‘obliterative portovenopathy’ leading to PHT, massive splenomegaly and well-tolerated episodes of variceal bleeding in young adults from low socioeconomic backgrounds, having near normal hepatic functions. In some parts of the world, NCPF is called idiopathic portal hypertension (IPH) or ‘hepatoportal sclerosis’. Because 85–95% of patients with NCPF and EHPVO present with variceal bleeding, treatment involves management with endoscopic sclerotherapy (EST) or variceal ligation (EVL). These therapies are effective in approximately 90–95% of patients. Gastric varices are another common cause of upper gastrointestinal bleeding in these patients and these can be managed with cyanoacrylate glue injection or surgery. Other indications for surgery include failure of EST/EVL, and symptomatic hypersplenism. The prognosis of patients with NCPF is good and 5 years survival in patients in whom variceal bleeding can be controlled has been reported to be approximately 95–100%.

© 2002 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd