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 (ChiLDREN) was utilized to perform a cross-sectional multi-centered analysis of PHT in children with BA.
BA subjects receiving medical management at a ChiLDREN site were enrolled. A priori, clinically evident PHT was defined as “definite” when there was either 1) history of a complication of PHT or 2) 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, while PHT was “absent” if none of the criteria were met.
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. ALT, GGTP, and sodium levels were similar, while there were significant differences in AST, AST/ALT, albumin, total bilirubin, PT, WBC, platelet count and AST/platelet between definite and absent PHT. Thirty-four percent of those with definite PHT had either PT > 15s or albumin < 3 g/L.
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.