Cyanosis, clubbing, and arterial oxygen desaturation may occur in patients with liver disease, and are attributed to the presence of pulmonary or peripheral arterio-venous shunting. Cardiac catheterisation and angiocardiography in a patient with a normal heart did not demonstrate the presence of abnormal arterio-venous anastomoses. Pulmonary shunting was proved when intravenous technetium-labelled macroaggregated albumin, normally held up in capillary networks, was passed quickly through the lungs and immediately detected in high systemic blood flow organs. The opening of peripheral and pulmonary anastomoses in patients with liver disease may be owing to the presence of a vasodilatory substance such as ferritin, which was found to be abnormally increased in the patient's blood.
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