Background/aims: Cirrhosis with portal hypertension is associated with changes in the splanchnic and systemic haemodynamics, and subsequent complications, such as bleeding from oesophageal varices, have led to the introduction of long-acting somatostatin analogues in the treatment of portal hypertension. However, reports on the splanchnic and systemic effects of octreotide are contradictory and therefore the aim of the present study was to assess the effects of continuous infusion of octreotide on central and systemic haemodynamics, portal pressures, and hepatic blood flow.
Methods: Thirteen patients with cirrhosis underwent liver vein catheterisation. Portal and arterial blood pressures were determined at baseline and 10, 30, and 50 min after a bolus injection of octreotide 100 micrograms, followed by continuous infusion of octreotide 100 micrograms/ h for 1 h. Hepatic blood flow, cardiac output, central and arterial blood volume, and central circulation time were determined at baseline and 50 min after the start of the octreotide infusion.
Results: The mean arterial blood pressure increased during the first 10 min (p < 0.0005), but returned to baseline after 50 min. The central and arterial blood volume (-16%, p < 0.005) and the central circulation time (-8%, p < 0.05) were significantly decreased after 50 min, whereas the cardiac output did not change significantly. The hepatic venous pressure gradient and the hepatic blood flow did not change significantly at any time after infusion of octreotide.
Conclusions: Octreotide does not affect the portal pressure or hepatic blood flow, whereas it may further contract the central blood volume and thereby exert a potentially harmful effect on central hypovolaemia in patients with cirrhosis. However, these early effects do not exclude the possibility that administration of longacting somatostatin analogues over a longer period may have a beneficial effect.