Systemic and splanchnic haemodynamics were studied in patients with cirrhosis who had been classified in three groups (A, B, and C) according to the degree of liver failure (modified Pugh's classification). In patients of group A, cardiac index was significantly lower than that of group C and systemic vascular resistance was higher, but not significantly so, than that of patients with liver failure. Wedged hepatic venous pressure was significantly lower in the former group than in the latter. In patients in group B, corresponding values fell between those of groups A and C. Azygos blood flow averaged 0.477 +/- 0.242 l/min (mean +/- SD) in group A and it was significantly lower than in groups B and C (0.642 +/- 0.224 and 1.061 +/- 0.476 l/min, respectively). In the three groups, acute administration of propranolol induced statistically significant changes in systemic and splanchnic haemodynamics. In patients of group C but not of group B, the mean value of azygos blood flow after propranolol remained significantly higher than in group A. Moreover, the fraction of azygos blood flow to cardiac output decreased in groups A and B while slightly increased in group C. This study shows that in patients with cirrhosis, the degree of liver failure may be a determinant for the haemodynamic responses to drugs acting on portal hypertension.
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