Haugen, G., Kiserud, T., Godfrey, K., Crozier, S. and Hanson, M.
Portal and umbilical venous blood supply to the liver in the human fetus near term
Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 24, (6), . (doi:10.1002/uog.1744).
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To determine the contribution of the umbilical (UV) and portal (PV) veins to blood supply to the human fetal liver in a low-risk population near term, and to assess the distribution between the left and right lobes.
In 91 low-risk pregnancies with normally grown fetuses at 36 weeks of gestation we measured the distribution of blood in the UV and PV to the right and left hepatic lobes using ultrasound imaging and Doppler techniques.
The median (10th, 90th centile) total UV return was 205 (127, 294) mL/min, of which 25% (13, 47%) was shunted through the ductus venosus, 55% (35, 66%) was distributed to the left hepatic lobe, and 20% (11, 30%) was distributed to the right hepatic lobe. While the left lobe was supplied exclusively by the UV, the right lobe received 50% (20, 70%; 37 (16, 65) mL/min) of its venous blood supply from the PV. The total venous blood supply to the liver parenchyma was 185 (114, 277) mL/min; 21% (8, 34%) came from the PV supply to the right lobe and the remainder came from the UV supply to both lobes.
The venous supply to the left lobe is from nutrient-rich UV blood; for the right lobe, half is from UV blood and half from nutrient-poor PV blood. This watershed between the portal and umbilical venous flows to the fetal liver suggests a corresponding functional dichotomy; this may be modified by hemodynamic influences, with long-term consequences.
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