Splenic artery ligation in selected patients with hepatic cirrhosis and in Sprague Dawley rats

C. L. Witte, M. H. Witte, W. Renert, R. E. O'Mara, D. L. Lilien

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40 Scopus citations


The effects of splenic artery ligation were studied in Sprague Dawley rats and in 8 selected symptomatic patients with hepatic cirrhosis. In rats, this maneuver induced splenic infarction, reduced functional splenic mass, transiently raised platelet and reticulocyte counts and was without local complications. In 7 patients with cirrhosis and prominent splenomegaly, the splenic artery was markedly enlarged, splenic arterial flow was greatly increased and splenic artery ligation partially lowered portal pressure. In 3 patients with varying cytopenias secondary to hypersplenism, splenic artery ligation uniformly improved peripheral blood elements, although varying degrees of hypersplenism later recurred necessitating splenectomy in one. In 5 other patients, splenic artery ligation in conjunction with coronary vein ligation in four was performed for bleeding esophageal varices. Two patients later required portacaval shunting, and one other in whom operation was undertaken in desperation died of hepatic failure. Celiac mesenteric arterioportography, operative portography, hemodynamic measurements and examination of peripheral blood elements in these eight patients suggest that splenic artery ligation in conjunction, where appropriate, with coronary vein ligation has several potentially beneficial effects. Hypersplenism may be sufficiently controlled to alleviate clinical symptoms. Arterial inflow into the portal system is reduced tending to lower portal pressure. Transhepatic portal flow from the mesenteric bed is preserved. Venous anastomotic channels still functioning around the splenic pedicle and no longer draining a hyperdynamic splenic circuit may be converted into an escape route for mesenteric venous blood entering the portal system under high pressure. Nonetheless, each of these effects and their interrelationships require further study before this operation assumes a larger role in the treatment of complications of portal hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalSurgery Gynecology and Obstetrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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