The cause of variceal bleed after a peritoneo-venous shunt is not known. Portal haemodynamic consequences of a peritoneo-venous shunt are poorly understood. The most critical period after a peritoneo-venous shunt is the early postoperative period when rapid mobilisation of peritoneal fluid occurs. Serial changes in the portal pressure during the early postoperative period have not been recorded. In the present study preoperative wedge hepatic vein (WHV), right atrial (RA) and pulmonary capillary wedged (PCW) pressures, cardiac index (CI), and plasma volume (PV) were measured in five alcoholic cirrhotic patients with tense ascites for up to 20 hours postoperatively. The longterm effect was assessed by repeating the intrahepatic and/or wedged hepatic vein pressures in three of the surviving patients after 10 to 20 months. A significant increase in the circulatory dynamics and portal pressure was seen within two hours after shunt placement. Wedged hepatic vein pressure increased from 27.6 (8.2) mmHg to 37.2 (9.2) mmHg (p less than 0.01), RA pressure increased from 6.8 (1.5) mmHg to 14.0 (4.3) mmHg (p less than 0.05), PCW increased from 7.2 (3.5) mmHg to 19.3 (5.7) mmHg (p less than 0.01), CI increased from 3.4 (0.27) lit/m2/min to 4.3 (0.85) lit/m2/min (p less than 0.05). This was accompanied by a 34% increase in the plasma volume from 1838.5 (142.1) to 2471.4 (210) ml/m2. These derangements were maintained up to 20 hours postoperatively. After 10 to 20 months, repeat measurements revealed a return to preoperative measurements. It is concluded that there is an acute increase portal pressure after a peritoneo-venous shunt attributed to increased circulation plasma volume, resulting from rapid mobilisation of ascitic fluid after the shunt. A sudden increase in portal pressure might be an important provoking factor for variceal bleeding after peritoneo-venus shunt.
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