We investigated the haemodynamic response to volume depletion and subsequent repletion in patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension. Twelve patients with compensated cirrhosis and portal hypertension were included in the study. The haemodynamic changes occurring after removal of approx. 15% of the blood volume, and subsequently after isovolume repletion with colloid, were assessed. Baseline haemodynamic measurements showed increased cardiac output and a systemic vascular resistance at the lower limit of normal. The hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) was increased, at 18 mmHg. After depletion, arterial pressure, cardiac output and all right-heart-sided pressures decreased, and systemic vascular resistance increased. HVPG decreased to 16.0 mmHg. All the above changes were statistically significant. After blood volume restitution, the haemodynamic values returned to baseline. In particular, an increase in HVPG was shown in four out of the twelve patients (two with ascites and two without), which was small in three of them. However, HVPG remained the same as or lower than the baseline in the other eight patients. Patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension exhibit an abnormal haemodynamic response to blood volume depletion. After volume repletion, no increase in the portal pressure was noted in this group of patients as a whole, although four out of the twelve patients did show an increase, possibly due to extensive collateral circulation.

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