Portal hypertension in children and young adults with biliary atresia

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2012 Nov;55(5):567-73. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e31826eb0cf.


Objective: Biliary atresia (BA) frequently results in portal hypertension (PHT), complications of which lead to significant morbidity and mortality. The Childhood Liver Disease Research and Education Network was used to perform a cross-sectional multicentered analysis of PHT in children with BA.

Methods: Subjects with BA receiving medical management at a Childhood Liver Disease Research and Education Network site were enrolled. A priori, clinically evident PHT was defined as "definite" when there was either history of a complication of PHT or clinical findings consistent with PHT (both splenomegaly and thrombocytopenia). PHT was denoted as "possible" if one of the findings was present in the absence of a complication, whereas PHT was "absent" if none of the criteria were met.

Results: A total of 163 subjects were enrolled between May 2006 and December 2009. At baseline, definite PHT was present in 49%, possible in 17%, and absent in 34% of subjects. Demographics, growth, and anthropometrics were similar amongst the 3 PHT categories. Alanine aminotransferase, γ-glutamyl transpeptidase, and sodium levels were similar, whereas there were significant differences in aspartate aminotransferase (AST), AST/alanine aminotransferase, albumin, total bilirubin, prothrombin time, white blood cell count, platelet count, and AST/platelet count between definite and absent PHT. Thirty-four percent of those with definite PHT had either prothrombin time >15 seconds or albumin <3 g/dL.

Conclusions: Clinically definable PHT is present in two-thirds of North American long-term BA survivors with their native livers. The presence of PHT is associated with measures of hepatic injury and dysfunction, although in this selected cohort, the degree of hepatic dysfunction is relatively mild and growth is preserved.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00061828.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Bile Ducts / pathology*
  • Biliary Atresia / blood
  • Biliary Atresia / complications*
  • Biliary Atresia / physiopathology
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal / blood
  • Hypertension, Portal / epidemiology
  • Hypertension, Portal / etiology*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / physiopathology*
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Platelet Count
  • Prevalence
  • Prothrombin Time
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism
  • Splenomegaly / etiology
  • Thrombocytopenia / etiology


  • Serum Albumin
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Bilirubin

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00061828

Grants and funding