Background & aims: Arterioportal fistulas (APFs) are rare vascular disorders of the mesenteric circulation. The aim of this study was to determine the etiology, anatomical location, and main symptom at presentation of APFs, and analyze the various modes of treatment.
Methods: The etiology, clinical presentation, radiographs, and treatment of 12 patients with APFs are reported in detail, and another 76 cases published since 1980 are reviewed.
Results: APFs result from trauma (n = 25, 28%), iatrogenic procedures (n = 14, 16%), congenital vascular malformations (n = 13, 15%), tumor (n = 13, 15%), aneurysm (n = 12, 14%), and other causes (n = 11, 12%). The origin of APFs is the hepatic artery in the majority of patients (n = 56, 65%). The main symptoms at presentation are lower or upper gastrointestinal bleeding (n = 29, 33%), ascites (n = 23, 26%), heart failure (n = 4.5%), or diarrhea (n = 4.5%). Radiological intervention provides definitive treatment in 42% (n = 33) of patients, whereas the remainder are treated by surgery alone (n = 27, 31%) or a combination of radiological intervention and surgery (n = 8, 9%).
Conclusions: APFs result in a protean syndrome variously combining portal hypertension and other hemodynamic imbalances (heart failure, intestinal ischemia). Single or multiple interventional radiological procedures using arterial and/or venous approaches allow definitive treatment of most APFs. With increasing technological advances, it is anticipated that surgery will only be indicated in rare instances after failure of radiological intervention(s).