Nine patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension were given intraoperative vasopressin (40 U/hr) in a continuous peripheral infusion during establishment of a distal splenorenal shunt. In all patients a significant and sustained reduction in portal venous pressure was achieved. As a result, blood loss during dissection and the time required for operation were minimized. The expected vasopressin-induced reduction in cardiac output was limited to a transient decrease at 5 minutes. There were no significant cardiac arrhythmias. These results suggest that vasopressin given through a peripheral vein during shunt operations is safe and facilitates dissection by providing significant and sustained reductions in portal venous pressure.
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