Splenomegaly is a frequent finding in patients with liver disease. It is usually asymptomatic but may cause hypersplenism. Thrombocytopenia is the most frequent manifestation of hypersplenism and may contribute to portal hypertension related bleeding. A number of therapies are available for treating thrombocytopenia due to hypersplenism including splenectomy, partial splenectomy, partial splenic embolization, TIPS etc. None is entirely satisfactory. Hypersplenism usually improves following liver transplantation. Therapy with cytokines such as thrombopoietin may offer hope for the future. Patients with liver disease also have abnormalities in coagulation. This is not surprising as all coagulation proteins (except for von willebrand factor vWF) and most inhibitors of coagulation are synthesized in the liver. Genetic or acquired abnormalities of coagulation may predispose to thrombosis of the hepatic or portal veins with significant clinical sequelae. An understanding of the mechanisms involved in coagulation and thrombosis is valuable in choosing from the increasing treatment options available. These include clotting factors, haemeostatic drugs and newer therapies such as recombinant factor VIIa. Splenic artery aneurysms are the most common visceral artery aneurysms in man. Rupture is frequently catastrophic. These aneurysms are being increasingly recognized in liver transplant patients and require treatment before or during transplant surgery.
Copyright 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.