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Abstract

Hepatic arterial buffer response (HABR) is considered an important compensatory mechanism to maintain perfusion of the liver by hepatic arterial vasodilation on reduction of portal venous perfusion. HABR has been suggested to be impaired in patients with advanced cirrhosis. In patients with hepatopetal portal flow, placement of a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) reduces portal venous liver perfusion. Accordingly, patients with severe cirrhosis should have impaired HABR after TIPS implantation. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the effect of TIPS on HABR as reflected by changes in resistance index (RI) of the hepatic artery. A total of 366 patients with cirrhosis (Child-Pugh class A, 106; class B, 168; class C, 92) underwent duplex Doppler ultrasonographic examination with determination of RI and maximal flow velocity in the portal vein before and 1 month after TIPS placement. Portosystemic pressure gradient was determined before and after TIPS placement. In 29 patients with hepatofugal portal blood flow, RI was significantly lower than in 337 patients with hepatopetal flow (0.63 ± 0.02 vs. 0.69 ± 0.01; P < .001). TIPS induced a significant decrease of the RI in patients with hepatopetal flow (RI, 0.69 ± 0.01 before vs. 0.64 ± 0.01 after TIPS; P = .001) but not in patients with hepatofugal flow (RI, 0.63 ± 0.02 before vs. 0.63 ± 0.02 after TIPS; NS). This response was not dependent on the Child-Pugh class. In conclusion, our results suggest that some degree of HABR is preserved even in patients with advanced cirrhosis with significant portal hypertension.