Anticoagulation in Cirrhosis: Evidence for the Treatment of Portal Vein Thrombosis and Applications for Prophylactic Therapy

Kylee Martens, Hannah S. McMurry, Steven Koprowski, Justine Hum, Jessica Haraga, Janice H. Jou, Joseph J. Shatzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The clinical utility of anticoagulation for patients with cirrhosis and asymptomatic portal vein thrombosis (PVT) is widely debated. Complex hemostatic derangements in cirrhosis that increase risk of both bleeding and thrombosis, as well as a lack of randomized controlled data, limit conclusive assessments regarding optimal management of anticoagulation in this setting. In this review, we summarize the relevant literature pertaining to PVT in cirrhosis, including the effect of untreated PVT on the natural progression of liver disease and the overall impact of anticoagulation on clot burden and other relevant clinical outcomes. Apart from patients who are symptomatic or listed for liver transplantation, data supporting anticoagulation for the treatment of PVT is limited and without clear consensus guidelines. In patients with cirrhosis without PVT, emerging evidence for the role of prophylactic anticoagulation to mitigate the progression of fibrosis suggests an optimal risk-benefit tradeoff with decreased rates of liver decompensation and mortality, without a heightened risk of bleeding. In summation, as our understanding of the role of both prophylactic and therapeutic anticoagulation in cirrhosis continues to evolve, ongoing risk stratification of patients with asymptomatic PVT demands further attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-545
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of clinical gastroenterology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


  • anticoagulation
  • cirrhosis
  • portal vein thrombosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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