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Summary

Background

Hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) has prognostic value in complications and survival of patients with liver cirrhosis. However, the relationship between HVPG and the outcome of acute alcoholic hepatitis (AAH), as well as the specific features of portal hypertension syndrome in this setting, have not been defined.

Aims

To evaluate the prognostic value of HVPG and to analyse the degree of portal hypertension and hyperdynamic circulation in patients with severe AAH.

Methods

Early measurements of HVPG were performed in 60 patients with severe AAH, and compared with the haemodynamic findings of 37 and 29 liver transplantation candidates with alcoholic or viral end-stage cirrhosis respectively.

Results

Twenty-three patients (38%) died during hospitalization. Portal hypertension and hyperdynamic circulation were more severe in AAH patients. HVPG was greater in non-survivors [26.9 (7.4) vs. 19.4 (5.2) mmHg, P < 0.001]. Only 4/31 (13%) patients with HVPG ≤ 22 mmHg died from the episode of AAH, vs. 19/29 (66%) patients with HVPG > 22 (P < 0.001). Encephalopathy (OR 9.4; CI 1.4–64.8), Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score > 25 (OR 7.4; CI 1.4–39.9) and HVPG > 22 mmHg (OR 6.7; CI 1.1–39.9) were independently associated to in-hospital mortality.

Conclusions

Early measurement of HVPG provides important prognostic information on the short-term outcome of patients with severe AAH. In addition, MELD score also seems to be a strong prognostic factor in these patients.