OBJECTIVE: To investigate the role of contrast-enhanced ultrasonography (CEUS) and Doppler ultrasonography (DUS) in the diagnosis of severe portal hypertension (PH) in patients with liver cirrhosis (LC).
METHODS: Patients with PH scheduled to receive hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) measurement were recruited for this study. Hepatic DUS and CEUS were performed successively. Several Doppler and CEUS parameters were explored for correlation with HVPG values and their association with severe PH (≥ 12 mmHg of HVPG). Comparison of the parameters between the severe and non-severe PH groups and their correlation with HVPG values was evaluated. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was also performed to investigate the performance in order to diagnose severe PH.
RESULTS: Fifty-three consecutive patients were enrolled in this study. Among them, 43 patients did not have significant ascites. Compared with the non-severe PH group, portal venous velocity and intrahepatic transit time (ITT) were significantly reduced in the severe PH group (all p<0.05). Difference between inspiratory and expiratory hepatic venous damping indices (ΔHVDI), hepatic venous arrival time (HVAT) and ITT moderately correlated with HVPG (r = -0.358, -0.338, and -0.613, respectively). Areas under the curves for severe PH were 0.94 of ITT and 0.72 of HVAT, respectively (all p<0.05). ITT under 6 seconds indicated severe PH with a sensitivity of 92% and a specificity of 89%.
CONCLUSIONS: Hepatic CEUS may be more useful in estimating the HVPG value and determining the presence of severe PH compared to DUS, and ITT was the most accurate parameter to diagnose severe PH.
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