Haemodynamic evaluation by Doppler ultrasonography in patients with portal hypertension: a review


Dr Soon Koo Baik, Department of Internal Medicine, Yonsei University, Wonju College of Medicine, 162, Ilsan-dong, Wonju, Korea
Tel: +82 33 741 1223
Fax: +82 33 741 1228
e-mail: baiksk@medimail.co.kr


Doppler ultrasonography (US) has an advantage of being non-invasive; therefore, several attempts have been made to investigate the haemodynamic alterations in cirrhosis and the response to medical treatment of portal hypertension. Doppler indices, which have been commonly used for the evaluation of portal hypertension, include the measurement of portal and splenic venous blood velocity and flows, and the resistive and pulsatility index at hepatic, splenic, renal, superior mesenteric artery. Although many positive evidences have been suggested, its clinical usefulness in portal hypertension remains unsettled because of being plagued by lack of reproducibility and accuracy characterized by intra- and interobserver variation. However, recently, Doppler's usefulness in assessment of severity of portal hypertension in terms of reproducibility, technical ease and accuracy and response to drugs that reduce the portal pressure has been proposed. In addition, because most of the patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension have intrahepatic shunts, they show a decrease in intrahepatic circulatory time (IHCT). Doppler US using microbubble contrast agents allows measurement of IHCT. Therefore, application of contrast-enhanced Doppler US can be prospective for the assessment of the severity of portal hypertension. Several reports have demonstrated that colour Doppler endoscopic US enable haemodynamic study to assess the portal hypertension and has a role of guidance to measure the imaging-based variceal pressure. We have reviewed briefly the clinical usefulness of Doppler US in assessing the severity of portal hypertension and its response to treatment.