New abdominal collaterals at ultrasound: a clue of progression of portal hypertension.Dig Liver Dis. 2008 Jan; 40(1):62-7.DL
Abdominal ultrasound can detect non-invasively the presence of abdominal portal-systemic collaterals in patients with liver cirrhosis. Abdominal portal-systemic collaterals may be protective from the formation and growth of oesophageal varices, but available data are inconclusive.
We aimed at investigating the relationship between abdominal portal-systemic collaterals and variceal formation and growth.
We studied 126 cirrhotic patients without (n=43) or with small (n=83) oesophageal varices who entered a protocol of serial ultrasonographic and endoscopic examinations for a median of 55 months. Presence and kind of abdominal portal-systemic collaterals was recorded on first ultrasonography and on each control thereafter.
At inclusion, abdominal portal-systemic collaterals were found in 19/43 patients without varices and in 23/83 patients with small varices (NS). There was no difference in variceal formation and growth between patients with and without abdominal portal-systemic collaterals at inclusion. However, patients developing new abdominal portal-systemic collaterals during follow-up had a significantly higher rate of variceal formation (56.2% vs. 22.2%; p=0.024) and growth (52.9% vs. 30.6%; p=0.041) compared with patients with unchanged ultrasonography.
Abdominal collaterals are not protective from the formation or growth of oesophageal varices. Conversely, new abdominal portal-systemic collaterals emergence is a non-invasive clue of formation and progression of varices. Therefore, endoscopy is probably indicated whenever new abdominal portal-systemic collaterals are detected in cirrhotic patients.