The measurement of the hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) for the estimation of portal hypertension (PH) in cirrhosis has some limitations, including its invasiveness. Hepatic vein arrival time (HVAT), as assessed by microbubble contrast-enhanced ultrasonography (CEUS), is negatively correlated with the histological grade of liver fibrosis because of the associated hemodynamic abnormalities. Anatomical and pathophysiological changes in liver microcirculation are the initial events leading to PH. However, the direct relationship between HVAT and PH has not been evaluated. The present study measured both HVPG and HVAT in 71 consecutive patients with compensated cirrhosis and analyzed the relationship between the two parameters (i.e., the derivation set). Results were validated in 35 compensated patients with cirrhosis at another medical center (i.e., the validation set). The derivation set had HVPG and HVAT values of 11.4 ± 5.0 mmHg (mean ± standard deviation; range, 2-23) and 14.1 ± 3.4 seconds (range, 8.4-24.2), respectively; there was a statistically significant negative correlation between HVPG and HVAT (r2 = 0.545; P < 0.001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) was 0.973 for clinically significant PH (CSPH; HVPG, ≥10 mmHg), and the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and positive and negative likelihood ratios for CSPH for an HVAT cut-off value of 14 seconds were 92.7%, 86.7%, 90.5%, 89.7%, 6.95, and 0.08, respectively. In addition, a shorter HVAT was associated with worse Child-Pugh score (P < 0.001) and esophageal varices (P = 0.018). In the validation set, there was also a significant negative correlation between HVAT and HVPG (r2 = 0.538; P < 0.001), and AUROC = 0.953 for CSPH. HVAT was significantly correlated with PH. These results indicate that measuring HVAT is useful for the noninvasive prediction of CSPH in patients with compensated cirrhosis.
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