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J Hepatol. 2004 Jan;40(1):172-80.

Pharmacological thrombolysis in Budd Chiari syndrome: a single centre experience and review of the literature.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust, The Liver Unit, Birmingham B15 2TH, UK.



To review our experience of thrombolytic therapy in patients with acute Budd Chiari syndrome (BCS).


Records of 10 patients with BCS, treated by thrombolysis over a 12-year period were retrospectively analysed for demographics, clinical presentation/duration, primary disease, thrombolytic regimen, and follow-up. The same characteristics were also studied in previously reported patients. The agent used was recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) in all patients.


Thrombolysis was used 12 times in 10 patients. Infusion was made systemically in three patients, into the hepatic artery in one patient, locally into a hepatic vein and/or IVC in four patients and locally within TIPS/portal vein in two patients. Only one infusion made systemically was partially successful. Adjunctive balloon angioplasty and/or stent insertion was undertaken for all eight procedures (in six patients) where local infusion was into the hepatic vein or TIPS. Six of these were ultimately successful (in five patients) and two were unsuccessful. Thrombolysis was more likely to be successful in the presence of a short history of thrombosis, when the thrombolytic agent was locally infused and when it was combined with a successful radiological procedure. Mean follow-up was 4.5 years (range 1-10 years). No serious bleeding complication occurred.


We observed no benefit from thrombolysis when delivered systemically or arterially except in one case. Thrombolysis was useful in adjunctive management of BCS when the drug was infused locally into recently thrombosed veins that had appreciable flow following partial recanalisation. Thrombolysis was clearly of benefit in the repermeation of occluded/partially occluded hepatic veins/TIPS when early detection of new thrombus followed interventional procedures such as balloon angioplasty or stenting of hepatic veins.

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