Acute portal vein thrombosis after liver transplant presenting with subtle ultrasound abnormalities: A case report and literature review

Thomas Couri, Carla Harmath, Talia Baker, Anjana Pillai
World Journal of Hepatology 2019 February 27, 11 (2): 234-241

BACKGROUND: Portal vein thrombosis (PVT) after liver transplantation (LT) is an uncommon complication with potential for significant morbidity and mortality that transplant providers should be cognizant of. Recognizing subtle changes in post-operative ultrasounds that could herald but do not definitively diagnose PVT is paramount.

CASE SUMMARY: A 30-year-old female with a history of alcohol-related cirrhosis presented with painless jaundice and received a deceased donor orthotopic liver transplant. On the first two days post-operatively, her liver Doppler ultrasounds showed a patent portal vein, increased hepatic arterial diastolic flows, and reduced hepatic arterial resistive indices. She was asymptomatic with improving labs. On post-operative day three, her resistive indices declined further, and computed tomography of the abdomen revealed a large extra-hepatic PVT. The patient then underwent emergent percutaneous venography with tissue plasminogen activator administration, angioplasty, and stent placement. Aspirin was started to prevent stent thrombosis. Follow-up ultrasounds showed a patent portal vein and improved hepatic arterial resistive indices. Her graft function improved to normal by discharge. Although decreased hepatic artery resistive indices and increased diastolic flows on ultrasound are often associated with hepatic arterial stenosis post-LT, PVT can also cause these findings.

CONCLUSION: Reduced hepatic arterial resistive indices on ultrasound can signify PVT post-LT, and thrombolysis, angioplasty, and stent placement are efficacious treatments.

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