BACKGROUND AND AIMS: In portal hypertensive patients, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) acutely increases cardiac output and exaggerates peripheral vasodilatation. It has been suggested that the worsened hyperdynamic state may progress to high output heart failure. The aim was to evaluate the acute and short-term haemodynamic adaptation to this procedure. METHODS: Systemic, splanchnic, and pulmonary haemodynamics were studied in 15 cirrhotic patients under stable haemodynamic conditions before placement of TIPS, then 15-30 minutes after and two months later. For inclusion in the final analysis, an uneventful post-TIPS at two months follow up and a stable portacaval gradient were required. The following variables were measured or calculated: portacaval gradient; cardiac index (thermodilution); systolic and diastolic mean arterial, atrial, pulmonary arterial, and wedged pulmonary capillary pressures; heart rate; and total peripheral and pulmonary vascular resistances. Blood flow in the shunt was measured using duplex Doppler ultrasound. RESULTS: The portacaval gradient decreased by 56% and remained stable thereafter. Shunt blood flow was unchanged when measured immediately after TIPS and two months later. Immediately after TIPS there was a pronounced increase in cardiac index (+32%; p < 0.05) in association with a decrease in peripheral and pulmonary vascular resistance (-21%; p < 0.05 and -14%; NS). Two months later, whereas the initial rise in cardiac index was attenuated, peripheral vascular resistances remained similar and pulmonary vascular resistances decreased further (-33%; p < 0.05) compared with immediate post-TIPS values. CONCLUSIONS: Hyperdynamic circulation worsened immediately after TIPS, with a progressive adaptation during follow up. The mechanisms of post-TIPS induced haemodynamic changes include an abrupt volume load resulting from splanchnic decompression and an increased delivery of gut derived vasodilators to the systemic circulation. The persistence of decreased peripheral and pulmonary vascular resistances despite the reduction in high cardiac output two months after TIPS suggests that vasodilatation is not solely a compensatory response to a TIPS induced increased preload. Vasodilatory substances shunted away from the liver probably play an important part in this phenomenon.
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