Injuries to the portal vein are associated with a high mortality because of a high incidence of concomitant injury to surrounding structures and refractory shock. Repair of the portal vein injury is often difficult or impossible because of massive hemorrhage. The key to successful management of a portal vein injury is rapid blood volume resuscitation and obtaining rapid and adequate exposure.
The optimal exposure for repair consists of reflection of the hepatic flexure of the colon with mobilization of the root of the mesentery, pancreas, and duodenum. Lateral venorrhaphy is the preferred method of management, but in hemodynamically unstable patients, ligation of the portal vein is an acceptable method of treatment.