Dig Dis 2005;23:6–10

The Pathophysiology of Portal Hypertension

Treiber G. · Csepregi A. · Malfertheiner P.
Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Infectious Diseases, University Hospital Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany
email Corresponding Author

 goto top of outline Key Words

  • Portal hypertension
  • Vasoconstrictors
  • Vasodilators

 goto top of outline Abstract

Portal hypertension is defined by an elevation in blood pressure in the portal system. Different causes are known and include a pre-, intra-, or posthepatic block. Portal hypertension is also classified according to the sinusoidal system. Portal pressure becomes elevated by either an increase in blood flow (Q), an increase in resistance (R), or both. Regulation of the vascular tone in the splanchnic system includes intrinsic and extrinsic aspects. A variety of metabolic end-products (e.g. adenosine), endothelium-derived substances (e.g. nitric oxide), and certain neurotransmitters (e.g. acetylcholine) are known to relax the tone and thus produce vasodilation. Important vasoconstrictor influences on splanchnic arterioles include circulating agents (e.g. angiotensin), endothelium-derived substances (e.g. endothelin), and again neurotransmitters (norepinephrine). Besides vascular tone, structural changes (thrombosis, fibrosis, shear stress, and cell regeneration) add to overall hepatic resistance. Further consequences of portal hypertension include an increase in blood flow which leads to a hyperdynamic state with fluid retention, leading to secondary involvement of other organs, such as cirrhotic cardiomyopathy, hepatopulmonary syndrome and hepatorenal syndrome. Finally, portal hypertension will end up in the formation of collateral vessels. Varices can involve the whole gastrointestinal tract and are a frequent source of bleeding.

Copyright © 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel

 goto top of outline References
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 goto top of outline Author Contacts

Gerhard Treiber, MD, Department of Gastroenterology,
Hepatology, and Infectious Diseases, University Hospital Magdeburg
Leipziger Strasse 44, DE–39120 Magdeburg (Germany)
Tel. +49 391 6713100, Fax +49 391 6713105
E-Mail gerhard.treiber@medizin.uni-magdeburg.de

 goto top of outline Article Information

Number of Print Pages : 5
Number of Figures : 3, Number of Tables : 2, Number of References : 7

 goto top of outline Publication Details

Digestive Diseases (State-of-the-Art Clinical Reviews)

Vol. 23, No. 1, Year 2005 (Cover Date: 2005)

Journal Editor: Malfertheiner, P. (Magdeburg)
ISSN: 0257–2753 (print), 1421–9875 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/ddi

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