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Am J Surg. 2002 Dec;184(6):631-5; discussion 635-6.

Portal vein thrombosis after splenectomy.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid, Campus Box 8109, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.



Portal vein thrombosis (PVT) has been described after splenectomy, but the factors associated with its development and the clinical outcomes are poorly characterized.


Case logs of four surgeons from 1996 to 2001 were retrospectively reviewed to identify cases of postsplenectomy PVT.


Eight cases of PVT (8%) among 101 splenectomies were identified. Indications for splenectomy in patients with PVT were myeloproliferative disease (n = 4), hemolytic anemia (n = 3), and myelodysplastic disorder (n = 1). All patients had splenomegaly (mean 1698 g, range 360 to 3150 g). Among 10 patients with myeloproliferative disease (MP), 4 patients (40%) developed PVT, compared with 4 of 12 patients (25%) with hemolytic anemia. Three of 4 patients (75%) with MP disease and spleen weight greater than 3,000 g developed PVT. Five patients developed PVT despite receiving prophylactic subcutaneous heparin postoperatively. Presenting symptoms included anorexia in 7 (88%), abdominal pain in 6 (75%), and both elevated leukocyte and platelet counts in 8 patients (100%). All diagnoses were made by contrast-enhanced computed tomography scan, and anticoagulation was initiated immediately. One patient died of intraabdominal sepsis; the others are alive with no clinical sequelae at 38 months of follow-up.


PVT is a relatively common complication of splenectomy in patients with splenomegaly. A high index of suspicion, early diagnosis by contrast-enhanced computed tomography, and prompt anticoagulation are key to a successful outcome.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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