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Keywords:

  • anticoagulant therapy;
  • gastrointestinal bleeding;
  • portal vein thrombosis;
  • thrombotic events

Summary

Background and aims

It remains unclear when anticoagulant therapy should be given in patients with non-cirrhotic portal vein thrombosis (PVT). The aim of this study was to assess the effect of anticoagulation on recurrent thrombotic events and gastrointestinal bleeding in non-cirrhotic PVT patients.

Methods

Retrospective study of all patients with non-cirrhotic PVT (= 120), seen at our hospital from 1985 to 2009. Data were collected by systematic chart review.

Results

Sixty-six of the 120 patients were treated with anticoagulants. Twenty-two recurrent thrombotic events occurred in 19 patients. The overall thrombotic risk at 1, 5 and 10 years was 4%, 8% and 27%, respectively. Seventy-four percent of all recurrent thrombotic events occurred in patients with a prothrombotic disorder. Anticoagulant therapy tended to lower the risk of recurrent thrombosis (hazard ratio [HR] 0.2, P = 0.1), yet the only significant predictor of recurrent thrombotic events was the presence of a prothrombotic disorder (HR 3.1, P = 0.03). In 37 patients, 83 gastrointestinal bleeding events occurred. The re-bleeding risk at 1, 5 and 10 years was 19%, 46% and 49%, respectively. Anticoagulation therapy (HR 2.0, ≤ 0.01) was a significant predictor of (re)bleeding. Anticoagulation therapy had no effect on the severity of gastrointestinal bleeding. Poor survival was associated with recurrent thrombotic events (HR 3.1 P = 0.02), whereas bleeding (HR 1.6 P = 0.2) and anticoagulant treatment (HR 0.5 P = 0.2) had no significant effect on survival.

Conclusions

In non-cirrhotic PVT patients recurrent thrombotic events are mainly observed in patients with underlying prothrombotic disorders. Anticoagulation therapy tends to prevent recurrent thrombosis but also significantly increases the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.