Intrahepatic arterioportal shunt

Intrahepatic arterioportal shunts represent abnormal flow between the portal venous system and a hepatic arterial system within the liver. They can be a reversible cause of portal hypertension.

Clinical presentation

Clinical features will depend on the size and other underlying pathology. Small shunts can be asymptomatic.


Intrahepatic vascular shunts can be divided according to the cause into:

  • tumorous shunt
  • non tumorous shunt
    • mainly due to liver biopsy and other hepatic intervention
    • may be due to liver cirrhosis itself owing to deformation of hepatic sinusoids which increases arterial pressure or portal vein extrinsic compression that also leads to increased arterial pressure
    • congenital intrahepatic arterioportal fistula (rare)

Differential diagnosis

Sometimes arterioportal shunt appears in dynamic CT as enhancing nodule, which can mimic hepatocellular carcinoma. The best way to differentiate is by using MRI with SPIO (superparamagnetic iron oxide) which is deposited in hepatocellular carcinoma and washed out in vascular shunt.

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