Basics

What is Portal Hypertension?

Portal vein carries blood from the intestine to the liver. Portal hypertension refers to the high blood pressure in this very vein. There are two main factors responsible for the high blood pressure in the portal veins. First factor is the greater volume of blood passing through the blood vessels and second factor is greater resistance to the blood while flowing through the liver.

In most of the western countries, it is the second factor which is most commonly responsible for the liver portal hypertension. Mainly, people who drink much are more vulnerable to this kind of hypertension.

Though portal hypertension has no specific symptoms some obvious signs comprise of enlarged abdomen and enlarged spleen causing discomfort to the patient. In addition to it, esophageal varices start bleeding and also veins in the rectum may start to bleed. Liver dysfunction and confusion and drowsiness are some other consequences of the liver hypertension. All these signs and symptoms can be easily recognized by physical examination of the patient. Moreover, Ultrasound x-ray and Computerized Tomography are also done to examine the condition of blood vessels of the liver.

There are some medications used to control the pressure in the portal veins. To control the bleeding from the esophageal varices, propranolol is administered on the patient. Bleeding is a kind of medical urgency for this kind of situation some other drugs like Vassopresin, Pitressin and Octreotide are also effective. Sandostatin is also taken to narrow down the passage in the blood vessels. Moreover, blood transfusion is also done to compensate for the loss of blood. One other way of treatment is the x-ray guided injection of the needle to connect the portal vein to hepatic veins to control the bleeding.