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The authors have analyzed the impact of pre-existing portal vein pathology on the outcome of orthotopic liver transplantation. The incidence was high in patients suffering from chronic active hepatitis, hypercoagulable states, trauma or previous dissection of the porta hepatis, and splenectomy. The existence of portal vein thrombosis (23 patients) or surgical central portosystemic shunt (10 patients) was documented by preoperative Doppler sonogram or angiography (26/33), or operative findings of occluded vein (7/33). Successful thrombectomy and dismantling of portacaval shunts were achieved in most cases (24/33). Only nine patients required the placement of an interposition vein graft to the superior mesenteric vein. The intraoperative course was characterized by increased blood loss and coagulopathy, significantly higher than in patients with a patent portal vein. When compared with all liver transplants, the immediate postoperative complication rate was higher for primary nonfunction (33% versus 8%), re-exploration for intraperitoneal bleeding and hematomas, and morbid infections. Rethrombosis rate of thrombectomized veins or vein graft was low (2/33). The mortality rate was 35% in the presence of portal vein thrombosis (PVT) and 30% for portacaval shuct (PCS), both significantly higher than the 12% for other orthotopic liver transplant (OLT) patients. These results are expected to improve with better patient selection, surgical experience, and anticipation of the complex postoperative course. The authors conclude that PVT or the presence of PCS are not contraindications to orthotopic liver transplantation.