From the Journals

PVT after sleeve gastrectomy treatable with anticoagulants


Key clinical point: Anticoagulation treatments effectively managed most portomesenteric vein thrombosis cases following laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.

Major finding: PVT is rare (0.3%) but occurs more frequently with laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, compared with other bariatric surgery procedures.

Study details: A multicenter, retrospective study conducted in Australia from 2007 to 2016 with 5,951 adult obese patients who received elective laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.

Disclosures: The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Source: Tan SBM et al. Surg Obes Relat Dis. Mar 2018;14:271-6.



Portomesenteric vein thrombosis, a rare but serious complication of the increasingly popular laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, can be effectively treated with extended postoperative anticoagulation therapy, findings from a large-scale, retrospective study indicate.

The research was conducted using data from medical records of created by physicians from five Australian bariatric centers, reported Stephanie Bee Ming Tan, MBBS, of the Gold Coast University Hospital, Queensland, Australia, and her associates in the journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. Following elective laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG), a total of 18 (0.3%) of the 5,951 obese patients were diagnosed with portomesenteric vein thrombosis (PVT). The PVT-affected population was a mean age of 44 years and 61% were women. All of these patients had at least one venous thrombosis systematic predisposition factor such as morbid obesity (50%), smoking (50%), or a personal or family history of a clotting disorder (39%).

All study patients were given thromboprophylaxis of low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) or unfractionated heparin plus mechanical thromboprophylaxis during admission for LSG and at discharge when surgeons identified them as high risk.

PVT following LSG can be difficult to diagnose because presenting symptoms tend to be nonspecific. Within an average of 13 days following surgery, 77% of patients diagnosed with PVT reported abdominal pain, 33% reported nausea and vomiting, and also reported less common symptoms that included shoulder tip pain, problems in tolerating fluids, constipation, and diarrhea. Final diagnosis of PVT was determined with independent or a combination of CT and duplex ultrasound.

Complications from PVT can have serious consequences, including abdominal swelling from fluid accumulation, enlarged esophageal veins, terminal esophageal bleeding, and bowel infarction. As with admission thromboprophylaxis treatments, patients diagnosed with PVT received varied anticoagulation treatments with most, in equal numbers, receiving either LMWH or a heparin infusion, and the remaining 12% receiving anticoagulation with rivaroxaban and warfarin. Adjustments were made following initial treatments such that 37% and 66% of patients continued with longer-term therapy on LMWH or warfarin, respectively. Treatments generally lasted 3-6 months with only 11% continuing on warfarin because of a history of clotting disorder. The anticoagulation treatments were successful with the majority (94%) of patients with only one patient requiring surgical intervention.

Follow-up with the patients who had a PVT diagnosis of more than 6 months (with an average of 10 months) showed the overall success of the post-LSG anticoagulation and surgical therapies, without any mortalities.

The authors summarized earlier theories about confounding health conditions that may contribute to the development of PVT and the risks for PVT linked to laparoscopic surgery. In this retrospective study, they noted that PVT incidence following LSG was low at 0.3% but was still higher than with two other bariatric operative methods and suggested intraoperative and postoperative factors that could contribute to this difference. Because of the nonspecific early symptoms and the difficulty of diagnosing PVT, the investigators recommended that physicians be vigilant for this postoperative complication in LSG patients, and use “cross-sectional imagining with CT of the abdomen” for diagnosis. Furthermore, with diagnosed PVT “anticoagulation for 3 to 6 months with a target international normalized ratio of 2:3 is recommended unless the patient has additional risk factors and [is] therefore indicated for longer treatment.”

The authors reported that they had no conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Tan SBM et al. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2018 Mar;14:271-6.

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