The use of vasoconstrictors in patients with liver cirrhosis: how, when, why

Claudio Puoti



Portal hypertension (PH) is a severe complication of liver cirrhosis. Patients with PH run the risk of developing gastro-esophageal varices and massive gastrointestinal bleeding, ascites, hepatorenal syndrome, and hepatic encephalopathy. Portal blood flow in its turn increases because of enhanced production of vasodilators, increased eNOS activity and NO release, systemic and splanchnic vasodilation, hyperkinetic circulation, and hyposensitivity to vasoconstrictors. Thus, it is now widely recognized that this hyperkinetic (hyperdynamic) circulation that characterizes liver cirrhosis is the main cause of the complications of the disease. This review is aimed at addressing the role of vasoconstrictor treatment in patients suffering from complications of decompensated cirrhosis, offering practical suggestions for the management of this treatment at bedside. In particular, the management of terlipressin in patients with cirrhosis, its side effects and the efficacy of this vasoconstrictor will be examined.


Cirrhosis; Portal hypertension; Terlipressin; Vasoconstrictors

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