An update on the management of Budd–Chiari syndrome: the issues of timing and choice of treatment


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Abstract

Because of the rarity of Budd–Chiari syndrome (BCS), the flow chart of management comes from expert opinion and is not evidence based. To report an update on the management of BCS. I performed a review on published papers on BCS in an attempt to speculate in particular on the timing and the choice of treatment. Some authors suggest that the management of BCS should follow a step-wise strategy. Anticoagulation and medical therapy should be the first-line treatment. Revascularization or transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt should be performed in case of no response to medical therapy. Orthotopic liver transplant should be used as a rescue therapy. The biggest criticism of this flow chart is that it is based on the assumption that patients with BCS should receive further treatment only when hemodynamic effects on portal hypertension become clinically evident, thus paying little attention to the chronic ischemic liver damage effects on hepatic function and to the possibility of preventing liver failure by relieving impaired hepatic veins outflow. Recently, I presented a proposal of a new algorithm for the management of BCS, in which medical therapy alone is suggested only for patients without any sign of portal hypertension, irrespective of whether early interventional treatment is suggested when either any symptoms or signs of portal hypertension appear, with the aim of preventing hepatic fibrosis development, disease progression, and finally improving outcome. Given that the benefit of treatments for BCS is not under debate, guidelines for the management of BCS should be re-evaluated and updated, with particular attention to both the timing and the choice of treatment.

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