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Ann Surg. 1979 Apr;189(4):383-5.

Traumatic injuries of the portal vein. The role of acute ligation.


Injuries to the portal vein are rare but have a high risk with a mortality of 50--70% secondary to exsanguinating hemorrhage. When managing injuries to the portal vein, lateral venorrhaphy, end to end anastomosis, or an interposition graft should be attempted whenever possible. However, in a hemodynamically unstable patient or when confronted with a nonreconstructable injury, acute portal vein ligation may be the procedure of choice as it is safely tolerated in some 80% of patients. Of eleven reported patients in whom the portal vein was ligated acutely for traumatic injury, six survived. Four of the nonsurvivors died of massive associated injuries. Of the six surviving patients, five tolerated acute ligation of the portal vein without complication. Should portal vein ligation be performed a "second look" operation is essential in 24 hours to examine the bowel for viability. A portosystemic shunt with its inherent complications should not be done as a primary procedure when attempts at reconstruction of the portal vein have failed. Shunting should be reserved for those few patients who develop stigmata of portal hypertension or impending infarction of the bowel.

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