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Semin Liver Dis. 2008 Aug;28(3):282-92. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1085096. Epub 2008 Sep 23.

Extrahepatic portal vein thrombosis.

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  • 1Hepatic Hemodynamic Laboratory, Liver Unit, IMDIM, Hospital Clínic, IDIBAPS and Ciberehd, Barcelona, Spain.


Noncirrhotic, nontumoral portal vein thrombosis (PVT) is the second most-frequent cause of portal hypertension in the world. General thrombophilic factors can be identified in approximately 60% of patients. PVT may manifest as an acute process. However, the acute episode more frequently is asymptomatic or paucisymptomatic and portal vein thrombosis is misdiagnosed until the development of complications secondary to portal hypertension, such as variceal bleeding or portal biliopathy. Although no randomized controlled trials have been performed, after the diagnosis of acute PVT early initiation of anticoagulation (within 30 days of the onset of symptoms) is recommended to achieve recanalization. In patients with portal cavernoma, anticoagulation is aimed to prevent the progression and recurrence of thrombosis. Because of the lack of data in this specific population, variceal bleeding is managed as in cirrhotic patients. Ursodeoxycholic acid has been proposed empirically for the treatment of patients with symptomatic portal biliopathy. Choledocholithiasis might be present, complicating a bile duct stenosis. Accordingly, an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography with sphincterotomy, extraction with balloon catheter, and stent placement is indicated. Mortality among patients with PVT is low (5-year mortality rate of 5 to 10%) and is mainly related to associated diseases rather than to complications of portal hypertension.

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