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Portal vein thrombosis after laparoscopic splenectomy: an ongoing clinical challenge.



Portal vein thrombosis (PVT) following open splenectomy is a potentially lethal complication with an incidence of up to 6%. The objective of this report is to describe our management of a recent laparoscopic case, discuss current therapies, and consider antiplatelet therapy for prophylaxis.


Medical records, laboratory studies, and imaging studies pertaining to a recent case of a laparoscopic splenectomy were examined. Current literature related to this topic was reviewed.


A 16-year-old girl underwent laparoscopic splenectomy for idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. Her preoperative platelet count was 96K. She was discharged on postoperative day 1 after an uneventful operation including division of the splenic hilum with an endoscopic linear stapler. On postoperative day 20, she presented with a 5-day history of epigastric pain, nausea, and low-grade fevers without peritoneal signs. Her white blood cell count was 17.3; her platelets were 476K. Computed tomography demonstrated thrombosis of the splenic, superior mesenteric, and portal veins propagating into the liver. Heparinization was begun followed by an unsuccessful attempt at pharmacologic and mechanical thrombolysis by interventional radiology. Over the next 5 days, her pain resolved, she tolerated a full diet, was converted to oral anticoagulation and sent home. Follow-up radiographic studies demonstrated the development of venous collaterals and cavernous transformation of the portal vein.


No standard therapy for PVT exists; several approaches have been described. These include systemic anticoagulation, systemic or regional medical thrombolysis, mechanical thrombolysis, and surgical thrombectomy. Unanswered questions exist about the most effective acute therapy, duration of anticoagulation, and the potential efficacy of routine prophylaxis with perioperative antiplatelet agents. PVT following splenectomy occurs with both the open and laparoscopic approach.

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