Preeminence of Lesser Splanchnic Blood Flow in Selected Patients with Generalized Portal Hypertension

Charles L. Witte, Marlys H. Witte, Gerald D. Pond, Charles L. Witte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although restricted transhepatic portal flow is necessary for development of generalized portal hypertension (GPH), increased splanchnic arterial inflow also contributes to GPH and its clinical sequelae. In this context, we describe 7 male and 6 female patients (mean age 48 years) in whom the lesser splanchnic (gastrosplenic) system played a key role in the signs and symptoms of GPH. These 13 patients (9 with hepatic cirrhosis, 3 with primary myeloproliferative disorder, and 1 with extrahepatic portal block) shared common features of massive splenomegaly, huge splenofundic gastric varices, often with a prominent natural shunt to the left renal vein. Total or near total splenectomy alone or combined where appropriate with coronary vein ligation was effective in controlling varix hemorrhage (10 patients), ascites (3), or complications of an enlarged spleen-anorexia and abdominal pain (3), hemolytic anemia (1) and profound thrombocytopenia with severe epistaxis (1). Intraoperative jejunal portal venography was crucial in operative management in order to establish definitively the presence or absence of coronary venous collaterals, and when present, to verify their operative ligation. These distinctive patients illustrate: 1) GPH is a heterogeneous syndrome of divergent splanchnic circulatory patterns, a feature which should be taken into account in selecting operative treatment; 2) one well-defined subgroup displays prominent hyperdynamic lesser splanchnic and specifically, splenic blood flow as a major contributor to clinical complications; and 3) within this subgroup, splenectomy combined with documented absence or surgical interruption of coronary venous collaterals as corroborated by intraoperative portography is effective alternative treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-251
Number of pages19
JournalHPB Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990


  • Portal hyptertension
  • intraoperative portography
  • splenectomy
  • splenic blood flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Hepatology


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