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Blood. 1997 Mar 1;89(5):1501-6.

Treatment of hepatic venocclusive disease with recombinant human tissue plasminogen activator and heparin in 42 marrow transplant patients.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Research, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, USA.


The purpose of this report is to review the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center experience of treating patients with venocclusive disease of the liver (VOD) after marrow transplantation using recombinant human tissue plasminogen activator (rh-tPA) and heparin. The charts of 42 patients who had received rh-tPA and heparin for the treatment of VOD between February 1991 and December 1995 were reviewed. Response to rh-tPA and heparin was defined as a reduction in total serum bilirubin by 50% within 10 days of starting treatment. Total serum bilirubin, percent weight gain, and serum creatinine before, after, and at the start of rh-tPA and heparin were examined to determine whether these laboratory values distinguished patients who responded to treatment from those who did not. We also evaluated whether evidence of multiorgan failure (requirement for supplemental oxygen, requirement for hemodialysis, requirement for mechanical ventilation) or whether the calculated probability of a fatal outcome from VOD could discriminate responders from nonresponders. In addition, the incidence and outcome of bleeding as a major complication of thrombolytic therapy was examined. Twelve patients responded to rh-tPA and heparin and 30 patients did not. There were no statistically significant differences between responders and nonresponders in the day treatment was started, dose of rh-tPA, total serum billirubin, and percent weight gain before, after, or at the start of treatment, or the calculated probability of dying from VOD on the day treatment with rh-tPA and heparin was begun. More nonresponding patients required dialysis or mechanical ventilation (11 of 30) before or at the start of rh-tPA and heparin than responding patients (0 of 12), P = .0183. Serum creatinine was greater at the start of treatment in nonresponding patients (1.9 +/- 1.3 mg/dL) than in responding patients (1.1 +/- 0.4 mg/dL), P = .0794. Ten patients had severe bleeding episodes, which resulted in death in three patients and may have contributed to death in an additional three patients. Treatment for VOD using rh-tPA and heparin was successful in 29% of patients but was associated with a significant risk of life-threatening hemorrhage. Requirement for supplemental oxygen, dialysis, or mechanical ventilation before the start of treatment were prognostic indicators of no response to thrombolytic therapy. We do not recommend treatment using tPA and heparin in patients with severe VOD who have already developed multiorgan dysfunction.

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