JOURNAL ARTICLE

Thrombolytic treatment of portal thrombosis

Piotr Malkowski, Jacek Pawlak, Bogdan Michalowicz, Jerzy Szczerban, Tadeusz Wroblewski, Elzbieta Leowska, Marek Krawczyk
Hepato-gastroenterology 2003, 50 (54): 2098-100
14696472

BACKGROUND/AIMS: The authors present their experience with thrombolytic treatment of "acute" portal thrombosis.

METHODOLOGY: Since 1980, portal thrombosis has been diagnosed in 305 patients treated in our Department. Portal thrombosis, mostly chronic, was associated with liver cirrhosis, Budd-Chiari syndrome, inflammatory and malignant liver tumors, as well as hypercoagulation conditions. In half of the patients the etiology of portal thrombosis remained obscure. Herewith, the authors present a retrospective review of 33 cases of rapidly developing portal thrombosis. Abdominal pain, ascites and jaundice were the most frequent initial symptoms. Time interval from the first symptoms appearance to hospitalization ranged from 8 to 60 days. The acute form of portal thrombosis was confirmed by Doppler sonography, spiral computed tomography and angiography. Sixteen female patients were regularly using oral contraceptives, in 8--portal thrombosis coexisted with the Budd-Chiari syndrome, in another 8--with polycythemia or myeloproliferative disorders and in 1 was observed during acute liver failure following paracetamol ingestion.

RESULTS: Conservative treatment was unsuccessful in the first 5 cases: all of them died from esophageal variceal bleeding and liver failure. The next 28 patients received fibrinolytic treatment with streptokinase (3 cases) or recombinated tissue plasminogen activator. The results of therapy were evaluated on the basis of clinical picture and Doppler sonography monitoring. Rapid improvement of general condition, with Doppler sonography signs of the portal vein recanalization was noted in 10 patients, in all of whom the history of the disease did not exceed 14 days. In 13 patients with the longer history, partial portal vein occlusion persisted, but restored hepatopetal flow was sufficient to assure normal liver function. In the remaining 5 patients, with the history of the disease lasting longer than 30-40 days, the treatment failed and no clinical or Doppler sonography evidence of restoring of the portal flow were demonstrated. Four patients died: 2 from portal rethrombosis, 1 from liver failure and 1 from cerebral stroke (12, 16 months, 3 months and 4 years after therapy, respectively). Twenty-four patients are alive, the time of follow-up ranging from 9 months to 6 years. In 8 cases, five years after portal system recanalization the first symptoms of portal hypertension occurred.

CONCLUSIONS: Thrombolytic treatment of acute portal thrombosis, if administered promptly, appears to be the only way to improve, or even restore, the portal system patency.

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