Portal vein thrombosis after splenectomy

Emily R. Winslow, L. Michael Brunt, Jeffery A. Drebin, Nathaniel J. Soper, Mary E. Klingensmith, Ernest Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


Background: Portal vein thrombosis (PVT) has been described after splenectomy, but the factors associated with its development and the clinical outcomes are poorly characterized. Methods: Case logs of four surgeons from 1996 to 2001 were retrospectively reviewed to identify cases of postsplenectomy PVT. Results: Eight cases of PVT (8%) among 101 splenectomies were identified. Indications for splenectomy in patients with PVT were myeloproliferative disease (n = 4), hemolytic anemia (n = 3), and myelodysplastic disorder (n = 1). All patients had splenomegaly (mean 1698 g, range 360 to 3150 g). Among 10 patients with myeloproliferative disease (MP), 4 patients (40%) developed PVT, compared with 4 of 12 patients (25%) with hemolytic anemia. Three of 4 patients (75%) with MP disease and spleen weight greater than 3,000 g developed PVT. Five patients developed PVT despite receiving prophylactic subcutaneous heparin postoperatively. Presenting symptoms included anorexia in 7 (88%), abdominal pain in 6 (75%), and both elevated leukocyte and platelet counts in 8 patients (100%). All diagnoses were made by contrast-enhanced computed tomography scan, and anticoagulation was initiated immediately. One patient died of intraabdominal sepsis; the others are alive with no clinical sequelae at 38 months of follow-up. Conclusions: PVT is a relatively common complication of splenectomy in patients with splenomegaly. A high index of suspicion, early diagnosis by contrast-enhanced computed tomography, and prompt anticoagulation are key to a successful outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-635
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Laparoscopy
  • Mesenteric vein thrombosis
  • Portal vein thrombosis
  • Splenectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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