Ultrasound scanning and 99mTc sulphur colloid scintigraphy are widely used in the diagnosis of the Budd-Chiari syndrome and have been compared at the time of presentation in 18 patients in whom the diagnosis was subsequently confirmed by histology and hepatic venography. Ultrasound was diagnostic in 16 (87%). The findings seen most often included hepatic vein abnormalities, caudate lobe hypertrophy with decreased reflectivity and compression of the inferior vena cava. Additional information not shown by scintigraphy included intracaval tumour, or thrombosis, and concomitant portal vein thrombosis. Although scintigraphic abnormalities were present in all patients, only in three (17%) was the 'classical' appearance of increased uptake and/or enlargement of the caudate lobe present. In one patient with nonspecific abnormalities on ultrasound, scintigraphy gave a positive diagnosis and it is in such cases that scintigraphy should continue to be used.
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