JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Warfarin anticoagulation before angioplasty relieves thrombus burden in Budd-Chiari syndrome caused by inferior vena cava anatomic obstruction.

OBJECTIVES: Pulmonary embolism (PE) is one of the major complications after percutaneous balloon angioplasty (PTBA) for Budd-Chiari's syndrome (BCS). The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of warfarin pre-treatment in the prevention of PE after PTBA in patients with large inferior vena cava (IVC) thrombus.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: From October 2002 to December 2009, 16 patients with symptomatic membranous or segmental IVC occlusion and large thrombus were treated with warfarin before PTBA. Eleven patients were men and 5 were women. The median age was 36 years, ranging from 21 to 52 years. The median duration of warfarin treatment before PTBA was 7 months, ranging from 3 to 12 months. Fourteen patients had membranous IVC occlusion and 2 had segmental occlusion. All 16 patients had significant thrombi underneath the obstructive lesions. PE diagnosis was based on clinical presentation and pulmonary computerized tomographic angiogram, if indicated.

RESULTS: In 14 of 16 patients, IVC thrombus was completely or near-completely resolved based on follow-up cavogram and PTBA was performed. In the other 2 patients, residual thrombus was demonstrated by cavogram at 12 months. PTBA and stent placement were carried out. IVC patency in the 16 patients was confirmed by completion cavogram. No major bleeding complication during warfarin pre-treatment aimed to keep international normalized ratio (INR) 2 to 3. There was no clinically significant PE or death in this group during follow-up, ranging from 6 to 40 months (median 21 months).

CONCLUSION: Spontaneous fibrinolysis of IVC thrombus occurs within 1 year in the majority of the patients treated with warfarin. Pre-treatment with warfarin prevents PE after PTBA in the patients with BCS with IVC membranous or segmental occlusion and large thrombus.

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