Gut 44:264-269 doi:10.1136/gut.44.2.264
  • Liver

Single portal pressure measurement predicts survival in cirrhotic patients with recent bleeding

  1. D Patcha,
  2. A Armonisa,
  3. C Sabinb,
  4. K Christopouloua,
  5. L Greensladea,
  6. A McCormicka,
  7. R Dicka,
  8. A K Burroughsa
  1. aLiver Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Medicine, The Royal Free Hospital, London, UK, bDepartment of Primary Care and Population Sciences, The Royal Free Hospital, London, UK
  1. Dr A K Burroughs, Consultant Physician and Hepatologist, Liver Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Medicine, Royal Free Hospital, Pond Street, London NW3 2QG, UK.
  • Accepted 2 September 1998


Background Height of portal pressure correlates with severity of alcoholic cirrhosis. Portal pressure indices are not however used routinely as predictors of survival.

Aims To examine the clinical value of a single portal pressure measurement in predicting outcome in cirrhotic patients who have bled.

Methods A series of 105 cirrhotic patients who consecutively underwent hepatic venous pressure measurement were investigated. The main cause of cirrhosis was alcoholic (64.8%) and prior to admission all patients had bled from varices.

Results During the follow up period (median 566 days, range 10–2555), 33 patients died, and 54 developed variceal haemorrhage. Applying Cox regression analysis, hepatic venous pressure gradient, bilirubin, prothrombin time, ascites, and previous long term endoscopic treatment were the only statistically independent predictors of survival, irrespective of cirrhotic aetiology. The predictive value of the pressure gradient was much higher if the measurement was taken within the first or the second week from the bleeding and there was no association after 15 days. A hepatic venous pressure gradient of at least 16 mm Hg appeared to identify patients with a greatly increased risk of dying.

Conclusions Indirectly measured portal pressure is an independent predictor of survival in patients with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic cirrhosis. In patients with a previous variceal bleeding episode this predictive value seems to be better if the measurement is taken within the first two weeks from the bleeding episode. A greater use of this technique is recommended for the prognostic assessment and management of patients with chronic liver disease.


  • Abbreviations:
    free hepatic venous pressure
    hepatic venous pressure gradient
    wedge hepatic venous pressure
    transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt
    portosystemic encephalopathy