- To date, non-selective beta blockers (NSBBs) are a cornerstone in the treatment of portal hypertension. During the last years, our understanding of the potential benefits of early initiation of NSBB treatment, their effects beyond the prevention of variceal bleeding (i.e., their non-hemodyamic effects), as well as potential detrimental effects in patients with advanced disease has continuously evolved. In addition, we have learned that not all NSBBs are equal. Due to its additional anti-α1-adrenergic activity, carvedilol has been shown to be more potent in decreasing portal pressure, but might lead to more pronounced decreases in systemic arterial pressure, when compared to conventional NSBBs.
- Nodular regenerative hyperplasia (NRH) is the leading cause of non-cirrhotic portal hypertension in Western countries. Although some patients are successfully managed medically or with shunting procedures, others require liver transplantation. The aim of this review was to assess the overall results obtained with liver transplantation and to better define its role in this setting.
- Portal hypertension is key to the natural history of cirrhosis and the standard way to assess it is the hepatic venous pressure gradient. Hepatic venous pressure gradient is a strong predictor of variceal bleeding/survival and is the only suitable tool to assess the response of portal hypertension to medical treatment. The clinical applications, indications and timing for hepatic venous pressure gradient measurement, together with measurement principles and costs, are reviewed.
- Portal hypertensive complications are major causes of morbidity and mortality in patients with liver cirrhosis. The advent of the transjugular route with its minimal access allows non-surgical management of portal hypertension, therapy of venous complications of liver transplantation, monitoring of therapy for portal hypertension, hepatic venous pressure gradient and is also the major route to treat hepatic venous obstruction syndromes. In addition, the transjugular route is a safe route to perform a liver biopsy (transjugular liver biopsy) and allows retrograde evaluation of the portal vein.
- Endoscopic ultrasonography has recently emerged as an accurate, non-invasive and reproducible alternative means of providing data for patients with portal hypertension. It is well established that endoscopic ultrasonography is more sensitive than endoscopy in the diagnosis of gastric varices. Dilated venous abnormalities outside the gastrooesophageal lumen, which cannot be diagnosed by endoscopy, are readily visible with endoscopic ultrasonography or miniature probes. Endoscopic ultrasonography is also useful to predict the risk of variceal recurrence and thus the risk of rebleeding after endotherapy which cannot be reliably predicted using endoscopy alone.