Splanchnic haemodynamics in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: effect of a dietary/pharmacological treatment. A pilot study

Dig Liver Dis. 2004 Jun;36(6):406-11. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2004.01.023.


Background: Previous studies demonstrated that in experimental animals fatty liver is associated with reduced hepatic blood flow and that metformin reverses steatosis, while no data were reported in humans.

Aims: To evaluate the clinical relevance of echo-Doppler measurements and the effects of therapy in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Patients: Twenty patients with biopsy proven non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Methods: Abdominal echo-Doppler examination was performed at enrolment and, in 11 patients, after 6 months of dietary/pharmacological therapy (metformin 500 mg three times a day).

Results: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was characterised by hepatomegaly, bright echotexture and posterior attenuation. Mean portal blood velocity and flow were low-normal. Brightness and posterior attenuation significantly correlated with fat score in liver biopsies as well as with the hepatic veins spectrum. After therapy, echotexture improved and liver volume significantly decreased. Portal blood velocity and flow significantly increased, intrahepatic arterial indexes decreased and the spectrum of hepatic veins improved.

Conclusions: Fatty liver is associated with an impaired hepatic blood flow characterised by increased intrahepatic resistances. Vascular changes are reversed by treatment and can be measured by echo-Doppler which may be useful to evaluate the natural course of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and to monitor the putative beneficial effects of therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Diet
  • Fatty Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Fatty Liver / physiopathology*
  • Fatty Liver / therapy*
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Circulation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Metformin / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Portal Vein / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Metformin
  • Alanine Transaminase