ABSTRACT— We studied the relationship between the portal blood flow velocity and the arterial ketone body ratio in patients with chronic liver disease receiving a dobutamine infusion. We used an ultrasonic Doppler duplex system to evaluate the portal blood flow velocity. Dobutamine was given intravenously at 5 μg/kg/min for 20 min. Dobutamine infusion induced smaller changes in the portal blood flow velocity and ketone body ratio in liver cirrhosis than in chronic hepatitis. The existence of shunts and the poor increase of the cardiac index in response to dobutamine explained the limited improvement of portal blood flow velocity in cirrhosis patients. The ketone body ratio was improved by dobutamine in cirrhosis patients whose portal blood flow velocity was increased by more than 10%, while this ratio decreased when the increase of it was less than 10%. There was no change in portal oxygen extraction in the cirrhosis group, and portal oxygen uptake only increased when the portal blood flow velocity rose by more than 10%. Dobutamine should only be used to treat liver failure if the portal blood flow velocity is increased by more than 10% or the arterial ketone body ratio is improved by a test infusion.