Management of portal vein thrombosis in liver cirrhosis

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Abstract

Portal vein thrombosis (PVT) is a fairly common complication of liver cirrhosis. Importantly, occlusive PVT might influence the prognosis of patients with cirrhosis. Evidence from a randomized controlled trial has shown that anticoagulation can prevent the occurrence of PVT in patients with cirrhosis without prior PVT. Evidence from several case series has also demonstrated that anticoagulation can achieve portal vein recanalization in patients with cirrhosis and PVT. Early initiation of anticoagulation therapy and absence of previous portal hypertensive bleeding might be positively associated with a high rate of portal vein recanalization after anticoagulation. However, the possibility of spontaneous resolution of partial PVT questions the necessity of anticoagulation for the treatment of partial PVT. In addition, a relatively low recanalization rate of complete PVT after anticoagulation therapy suggests its limited usefulness in patients with complete PVT. Successful insertion of a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) not only recanalizes the thrombosed portal vein, but also relieves the symptomatic portal hypertension. However, the technical difficulty of TIPS potentially limits its widespread application, and the risk and benefits should be fully balanced. Notably, current recommendations regarding the management of PVT in liver cirrhosis are insufficient owing to low-quality evidence.

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