Observation of Thoracic Duct Morphology in Portal Hypertension by Endoscopic Ultrasound

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Background:Thoracic duct dilation has been demonstrated in portal hypertension and hepatic cirrhosis by lymphangiography and laparotomy and at autopsy. It is thought to be secondary to increased hepatic lymph flow and has been described in the absence of ascites or esophageal varices. The aim of the present study was to observe thoracic duct morphology by endoscopic ultrasound in various subsets of patients with portal hypertension and hepatic cirrhosis and also to validate existing radiologic/surgical data. Methods:The thoracic duct of 33 patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension was studied by endoscopic ultrasound. Patients were divided into four groups: 1, patients with ascites and esophageal varices; 2, esophageal varices without ascites; 3, without esophageal varices or ascites; 4, extrahepatic portal hypertension due to pancreatic malignancy. The thoracic duct diameter was also measured in 14 control subjects (group 5). Results:When the thoracic duct diameter for the five groups was compared with analysis of variance, significance was p < 0.0001; by pairwise comparison, group 1 differed from the other four groups (p < 0.05). Thoracic duct dilation (5.61 mm) was seen in group 1 patients, whereas no dilation was present in groups 2 through 4. Additionally, thoracic duct diameter in 33 portal hypertensive and/or cirrhotic patients was significantly different from that in the 14 control subjects (p = 0.003). Conclusion:The thoracic duct can be reliably identified by EUS in patients with hepatic cirrhosis and portal hypertension. Dilation of the duct is seen only in patients with hepatic cirrhosis, ascites, and esophageal varices. No thoracic duct dilation is present in extrahepatic portal hypertension. Contrary to existing radiologic/surgical data, thoracic duct dilation is not seen in all patients with hepatic cirrhosis and portal hypertension signifying advanced disease. A dilated thoracic duct by endoscopic ultrasound should be considered yet another sign of portal hypertension. (Gastrointest Endosc 1998;48:588-92.)



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