Hypercoagulability as a contributor to thrombotic complications in the liver transplant recipient

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Traditionally, perioperative bleeding complications were a major concern during orthotopic liver transplantation, but a tremendous decline in transfusion requirements has been reported over the last decade. In recent years, there has been an increasing awareness towards perioperative thrombotic complications, including liver vessel thrombosis, and systemic venous and arterial thromboembolic events. Whereas a number of these thrombotic complications were previously categorized as surgical complications, increasing clinical and laboratory evidence suggest a role for the haemostatic system in thrombotic complications occurring during and after transplantation. High levels of the platelet adhesive protein von Willebrand factor with low levels of its regulator ADAMTS13, an increased potential to generate thrombin, and temporary hypofibrinolysis are all indicative of increased haemostatic potential after transplantation. Clinical evidence for a role of the haemostatic system in post-operative thromboses includes a higher thrombotic risk in patients with various acquired thrombotic risk factors. Although data on efficacy of anticoagulant therapy after liver transplantation are scarce, one study has shown a significant decrease in the risk for late hepatic artery thrombosis by antithrombotic therapy with aspirin. These findings suggest that antihaemostatic therapy in prevention or treatment of thromboembolic complications after liver transplantation may be relevant. Studies on efficacy and safety of these interventions are required as many of the thrombotic complications have a pronounced negative impact on graft and patient survival.

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