Background: When residual liver volume is extremely small after extended hepatectomy, postoperative hepatic failure may ensue. The cause of the hepatic failure is likely associated with the portal hypertension after hepatectomy. We investigated the effects of portocaval shunt on portal hypertension in producing sinusoidal microcirculatory injury after extended hepatectomy in pigs. Methods: Fourteen pigs were divided into two groups: a group without a shunt, in which extended hepatectomy was carried out (i.e., residual volume was 17% of the whole liver), and a group with a shunt, in which extended hepatectomy was carried out and a portocaval shunt was inserted. The portocaval shunt was placed by side-to-side anastomosis between the portal vein and the inferior vena cava. Results: In the group without a shunt, all pigs died of hepatic failure within postoperative day 3. In the group with a shunt, all pigs were alive for more than 4 days, and 4 pigs survived longer than 7 days. Portal vein pressure after hepatectomy was 15.9 ± 3.8 mmHg in the group without a shunt and 10.5 ± 0.6 mmHg in the group with a shunt (P < 0.01). The portal vein flow after 83% hepatectomy in the group without a shunt increased significantly more than at laparotomy and in the group with a shunt (P < 0.01). In the group without a shunt, remarkable destruction of the sinusoidal lining and edema of the portal triad and hydropic change of hepatocytes were observed 1 hour after hepatectomy, but these findings were not observed in the group with a shunt. Conclusions: These results indicate that, after extended hepatectomy, overload of portal flow is one of the most significant risk factors of hepatic failure by sinusoidal microcirculatory injury.
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