Utility of cone-beam computed tomography in the assessment of the porto-spleno-mesenteric venous system
The common diagnostic tools available to evaluate the porto-spleno-mesenteric venous (PSMV) system provide either good hemodynamic information with limited morphological details [e.g., ultrasonography (US)] or excellent tomographic display of the anatomy with limited information about flow patterns [e.g., multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) and magnetic resonance imaging]. Although catheter-directed selective digital subtraction angiography (DSA) can provide excellent information about flow at a high temporal resolution and can generate images at a high spatial resolution, this technique is often limited by a lack of cross-sectional detail. In the assessment of the PSMV system, DSA is also limited by dilution of contrast and motion artefacts. Combining venous phase cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) with DSA can generate high-quality tomographic data, which allows detailed evaluation of venous tributaries and flow patterns within the splenic, superior mesenteric, and inferior mesenteric venous systems individually. This enables clinicians to better understand the impact of nonobstructive resistance to flow (e.g., as in patients with cirrhosis) and obstructive resistance to flow (e.g., as in patients with thrombosis) within each system and plan treatment accordingly. In this review, we discuss the limitations of common diagnostic methods and the role venous CBCT in combination with DSA can play in assessing the PSMV system.