Patency and direction of flow in portal veins and their branches are generally assessed by duplex Doppler ultrasonography (DDUS), whereas few data are available on hepatic arterial hemodynamics. In this study, resistive (RI) and pulsatility indexes (PI) were calculated at DDUS in 21 controls, 22 chronic alcoholic patients without evidence of liver damage, 19 patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis (AAH), 30 patients with chronic vital hepatitis (CVH), 23 patients with alcoholic cirrhosis, and 22 patients with viral- related cirrhosis. Diagnosis was based on clinical and histological findings. Mean ± SD RI was similar in controls and CVH patients (0.64 ± 0.02 and 0.66 ± 0.04, respectively), significantly decreased in alcoholic patients without liver damage and AAH patients (0.61 ± 0.07 and 0.60 ± 0.07) (P <.05), and significantly increased in patients with alcoholic (0.72 ± 0.04) and viral- related cirrhosis (0.74 ± 0.04) (P <.05). It was 0.70 in 39 of the 45 cirrhotic patients (87%) and 12 of the 71 noncirrhotic patients pooled together (17%). A significant correlation was observed between RI and PI (r = .83; P <.05). The coefficients of variation for intraobserver variability were 6.3% ± 5.1% for RI and 10.1% ± 6.2% for PI, and the corresponding figures for interobserver variability were 5.2% ± 3.5% and 9.3% ± 4.6%. These findings support the existence of ethanol- related hepatic arterial vasodilation in AAH and alcoholic patients without liver damage. Progression of liver damage from AAH to cirrhosis profoundly impairs the hepatic responsiveness as a consequence of fibrosis with vascular distortion.
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