Background: Peripheral hepatic blood flow has not been investigated using contrast-enhanced ultrasound. The aim of this study was to assess the characteristics of peripheral blood flow within the liver parenchyma using Levovist in patients with alcoholic liver disease (ALD).
Methods: The study population comprised 160 patients: 7 normal control subjects (NC), 89 with chronic viral hepatitis (CVH), 8 with alcoholic liver injury (ALI), 18 with viral liver cirrhosis without portosystemic shunting (VLCwoPSS) plus 11 with PSS (VLCwPSS), and 12 with alcoholic liver cirrhosis without PSS (ALCwoPSS) plus 15 with PSS (ALCwPSS). First, continuous spectral Doppler ultrasound was performed to assess peripheral blood flow within the liver parenchyma. We defined the arrival time (AT) as the time when signals began to increase in the region of interest after the injection of Levovist, whereas the peak time (PT) was the time between the AT and the maximum signal. Second, stimulated acoustic emission imaging was compared between the liver parenchyma and the right kidney at 20 sec, 90 sec, and 5 min after injection of Levovist.
Results: The average AT was as follows: NC, 18.4 sec; CVH, 18.7 sec; ALI, 15.5 sec; VLCwoPSS, 18.2 sec; VLCwPSS, 12.5 sec; ALCwoPSS, 13.5 sec; and ALCwPSS, 12.7 sec. In patients with ALI and cirrhosis (excluding VLCwoPSS), the AT was earlier than in NC and CVH. The average PT was as follows: NC, 18.3 sec; CVH, 19.4 sec; ALI, 20.3 sec; VLCwoPSS, 19.3 sec; VLCwPSS, 9.0 sec; ALCwoPSS, 10.7 sec; and ALCwPSS, 4.9 sec. In patients with cirrhosis (excluding VLCwoPSS), the PT was earlier than in the other groups. As PSS developed, the PT of ALC became much earlier. In NC, the stimulated acoustic emission study showed no enhancement of the liver parenchyma at 20 sec. However, most of the patients with ALD showed marked enhancement of the liver at 20 sec. It is interesting that only slight enhancement of the liver was seen in ALCwPSS, although NC showed marked liver enhancement at 5 min.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that ALD is accompanied by regional hepatic and systemic hemodynamic changes, such as hyperdynamic circulation and arterialization of the liver, before progression to cirrhosis.