Portal venous gas is merely the accumulation of gas in the portal vein and its branches. It needs to be distinguished from pneumobilia, although this is usually not too problematic, when associated findings are taken into account along with the pattern of gas (i.e. peripheral in portal venous gas, central in pneumobilia).
Although traditionally considered a harbinger of death, portal venous gas is increasingly recognised in a variety of conditions, many of which do not carry as high mortality or morbidity risks.
Causes of portal venous gas are best divided according to the age of the patient:
- alterations of bowel wall
- bowel luminal distention
- intra-abdominal sepsis
- unknown mechanism
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