BACKGROUND/AIMS: We aimed to characterize by echo-color-Doppler the splanchnic hemodynamics of patients good and poor responders to primary prophylaxis with nadolol. METHODS: Thirty cirrhotic patients (Child-score 7.0+/-1.8) with medium/large esophageal varices without previous bleedings were consecutively enrolled. At inclusion and after 3 months of treatment with nadolol, they underwent a splanchnic echo-color-Doppler study and a measurement of hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG). RESULTS: Nadolol (60+/-36 mg/day; range 20-160) induced a significant reduction of HVPG (16.6+/-6.1 vs. 19.4+/-4.6 mmHg, P < 0.0001). 13 patients (43.3%) were hemodynamic responders. Responders and Poor-responders had similar baseline clinical characteristics. Poor-responders at baseline were characterized by lower impedance indexes in superior mesenteric artery (SMA) (PI 2.29+/-0.45 vs. 2.74+/-0.46; P = 0.01; RI 0.83+/-0.04 vs. 0.86+/-0.03; P = 0.02), hepatic artery (HA) (PI 1.41+/-0.19 vs. 1.79+/-0.48; P = 0.03; RI 0.71+/-0.05 vs. 0.80+/-0.07; P = 0.02), and splenic artery (SA) (PI 1.18+/-0.27 vs. 1.73+/-0.40; P = 0.01; RI 0.66+/-0.07 vs. 0.73+/-0.09; P = 0.02), and by higher mean flow velocity of HA (52.6+/-21.6 vs. 26.5+/-9.5 cm/s; P = 0.02) and SMA (49.7+/-14.5 vs. 33.9+/-13.1 cm/s; P = 0.06). CONCLUSIONS: Cirrhotic patients poor-responders to nadolol show a pronounced arterial splanchnic vasodilatation at a baseline echo-color-Doppler study. This can be considered a non-invasive clue for the a priori identification of this subgroup of patients.
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