Portal vein thrombosis.

M. M. Olson, P. B. Ilada, K. N. Apelgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Portal vein thrombosis (PVT) is a complication of hepatic disease and a potentially lethal complication of splenectomy. The reported incidence of this complication is low (approximately 1%). However, its true incidence may have been underestimated due to difficulty in making the diagnosis. Herein we report the case of a 19 year-old woman who presented with a 2-year history of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). Because she had become refractory to medical therapy, she underwent laparoscopic splenectomy. She was discharged on postoperative day 2 after an uncomplicated procedure. She did well, complaining only of mild backache, until postoperative day 21, when she presented with nausea, vomiting, and leukocytosis. CT showed PVT and superior mesenteric vein thrombosis. Despite heparin and fluid administration, her condition worsened. At laparotomy, she had diffuse small bowel edema and congestion. At a second-look procedure 24 h later, nearly all her jejunum and ileum were necrotic. After three procedures, she was left with 45 cm of proximal and 10 cm of distal small bowel. Bowel continuity was restored 8 weeks later. She continued on warfarin anticoagulation therapy for 1 year. Postsplenectomy PVT is most often seen following splenectomy for myeloproliferative disorders and almost never after trauma. The large splenic vein stump and the hypercoagulable state in patients with splenomegaly are thought to be contributory. The presentation of PVT is vague, without defining signs or symptoms. Color-flow Doppler and contrast-enhanced CT scans are the best methods for the nonoperative diagnosis of PVT. Aggressive thrombolysis offers the best hope for clot lysis and maintenance of bowel viability. Even vague symptoms must be considered seriously following splenectomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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