Treatment response and bleeding events associated with anticoagulant therapy of portal vein thrombosis in cirrhotic patients: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Authors Babu P. Mohan, Veeraraghavan Meyyur Aravamudan, Shahab Rasool Khan, Suresh Ponnada, Ravishankar Asokkumar, Douglas G. Adler.


Background Well-defined guidelines for the treatment of portal vein thrombosis (PVT) in patients with cirrhosis are lacking, given the paucity of robust data. Among the available treatment options the best choice is unknown.

Methods We conducted a comprehensive search of multiple electronic databases and conference proceedings (through December 2019) to identify studies that reported on the use of anticoagulants in the treatment of PVT in patients with cirrhosis. Our goals were to evaluate the pooled odds ratio (OR) and pooled rate of treatment responders and bleeding events.

Results A total of 17 studies were included: 648 patients were treated with anticoagulation and 96 were controls. Pooled OR for treatment responders was 5.1 (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.5-10.2, P = 0.001) and pooled OR for bleeding was 0.4 (95%CI 0.1-1.5, P = 0.2) for anticoagulation treatment versus control. Pooled rate of treatment responders with anticoagulation was 66.7% (95%CI 58.3-74.1) compared to 26% (95%CI 14.2-42.7) for the control group. Pooled rate of bleeding seemed comparable (7.8%, 95%CI 4.5-13.3, and 15.4%, 95%CI 4.3-42.7). On subgroup analysis, pooled rates of treatment responders and bleeding events seemed similar between low molecular weight heparin, vitamin K antagonists, and direct oral anticoagulants.

Conclusions Our study demonstrated that anticoagulation is effective and safe in the treatment of PVT in patients with cirrhosis. Owing to the comparable outcomes, direct oral anticoagulants may be considered as first-line treatment, depending on patient preferences.

Keywords Portal vein thrombosis, cirrhosis, direct oral anticoagulants, meta-analysis

Ann Gastroenterol 2020; 33 (5): 521-527

Original Articles