Correlation of portal vein diameter with the presence of oesophageal varices in chronic liver disease: a prospective study

Suraj Uppalapati, Lokesh S.


Background: Guidelines recommends upper gastrointestinal endoscopy for all the patients with cirrhosis of liver to rule out portal hypertension. Many patients may not be willing to undergo this unpleasant procedure or resources may not be available. In this study, authors aim to identify the effectiveness of portal vein size as a non-invasive predictor of esophageal varices.

Methods: In this prospective observational study of 30 patients, patients with liver cirrhosis without a previous history of upper GI bleeding were included between November 2012 and October 2014. Relevant clinical parameters were assessed which included physical examination, complete hemogram, biochemical workup, upper GI endoscopy and ultrasonographic measurement of portal vein diameter.

Results: Out of the study population 70% of the patients had Oesophageal varices. Ultrasonography abdomen showed portal vein dilatation(>13mm) in 66.6% cases. The mean portal vein diameter in our study group was 13.1mm and majority of patients had portal vein between 13-13.9 mm (43.3%). A cut-off point of more than 13 mm had strong significant relationship (p<0.01) with presence of esophageal varices (sensitivity of 100%, specificity of 90% and positive predictive value of 95.24%). Higher grades of esophageal varices exists with larger portal vein size.

Conclusions: From present study, authors conclude that portal vein size and its dilatation detected ultrasonographically can determine the presence of esophageal varices and can hence identify the subset of patients who require endoscopy for the prophylactic management of variceal bleeding. Therefore, reduce the burden on the endoscopy units, avoiding unnecessary screening endoscopies. Apart from being non-invasive, portal vein diameter is a relatively inexpensive and easily reproducible parameter.


Cirrhosis of liver, Esophageal varices, Portal vein diameter, Portal hypertension, Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy

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