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Am J Gastroenterol. 1997 May;92(5):858-62.

Budd-Chiari syndrome: a common complication of Behçet's disease.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Hacettepe University School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey.



The Budd-Chiari syndrome is characterized by venous outflow obstruction of the liver, usually occurring as a consequence of thrombosis of the hepatic veins. Vasculitis is a major component of Behçet's syndrome. The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of hepatic vein thrombosis in patients with Behçet's disease and to estimate the effect of this entity upon the clinical features and course of Behçet's syndrome.


During an 8-yr period from 1985 to 1994, from a total of 493 patients with Behçet's disease seen at Hacettepe University Hospital, the incidence and effect of hepatic vein thrombosis on the clinical course of Behçet's syndrome was investigated. The hepatic vein thrombosis in each case was documented by hepatic venography and confirmed by digital subtraction angiography, computed tomography, ultrasonography, and liver biopsy. Coagulation parameters including protein C, protein S, and anti-thrombin III levels were easured in each case. The survival of cases with Behçet's syndrome complicated by Budd-Chiari syndrome and the effect of the Budd-Chiari syndrome on the survival of individuals with Behçet's syndrome were determined using the Kaplan-Meier technique.


Of the 493 cases of Behçet's syndrome, 53 (10.8%) were found to have one or more large vessel thrombosis. Of these 53 patients, 14 (26.4%) had hepatic vein thrombosis. Of these 14 patients, 8 had an additional inferior vena cava thrombosis and 4 had portal vein as well as total inferior vena cava thrombosis. Only two patients with isolated hepatic vein thrombosis were identified. These two patients and two additional patients with hepatic vein thrombosis plus thrombosis of the hepatic portion of the inferior vena cava are currently alive. Of the 10 patients with total inferior vena cava and hepatic vein thrombosis (4 also had portal vein thrombosis), all 10 died with a mean survival of 10.3 months. During the same time period, 37 patients obtained from a total of 1494 patients with clinical evidence of either portal hypertension, hepatic venous outflow obstruction or inferior vena caval obstruction without Behçet's syndrome were found to have a Budd-Chiari syndrome. Of these 37 patients, 19 (51%) had an identifiable underlying disorder responsible for their hepatic vein thrombosis.


Based upon this experience, it appears as if Budd-Chiari syndrome is a relatively frequent complication of Behçet's disease. When individuals with Behçet's syndrome have BCS, concurrent thrombosis of the portal vein and inferior vena cava are often found, if the patency of these vessels is assessed. The clinical course of patients with Behçet's syndrome complicated by Budd-Chiari syndrome is poor. The extent of the vascular thrombosis within the inferior vena cava rather than the presence of the hepatic vein thrombosis per se is the major determinant of survival.

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