Portal vein thrombosis in cirrhotic patients - it is always the small pieces that make the big picture

Irina Gîrleanu, Anca Trifan, Carol Stanciu, Cătălin Sfarti
World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG 2018 October 21, 24 (39): 4419-4427
Portal vein thrombosis (PVT) is a frequent and serious complication in patients with liver cirrhosis (LC). Recently, a new classification of PVT was proposed, although the functional component was not completed included. The status of liver disease (compensated/decompensated) should be added to this classification. Reduced portal flow velocity and the acquired hypercoagulable status associated with LC are the main risk factors for PVT development, although endothelial dysfunction may play an important role that needs to be further evaluated. The European Association for the Study of the Liver and the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease recommend that the anticoagulant treatment should be consider in cirrhotic patients with PVT. Low molecular weight heparin and vitamin K antagonists proved their efficacy and relatively safety in PVT treatment, although in addition to recanalization rates, more complex end-points such as mortality and decompensation rate should be evaluated. The new oral anticoagulant therapies offers the advantage of oral administration in the absence of laboratory monitoring, however, there are a few reports regarding their use in cirrhotic patients, most of them referring to compensated isolated cases. Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt could be an alternative if thrombosis progresses despite anticoagulatant therapy and/or when PVT is associated with portal hypertension complications. The aim of this editorial is to discuss the different aspects of pathophysiology, clinical relevance, diagnosis and management of PVT in patients with LC.

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