Portal vein thrombosis: an unusual complication of laparoscopic cholecystectomy

JSLS. 2005 Jan-Mar;9(1):87-90.


Background: Complications following laparoscopic cholecystectomy are encountered infrequently due to increasing proficiency in laparoscopic surgery. The occurrence of portal venous thrombosis following laparoscopic cholecystectomy has not been previously described and forms the basis of this report.

Methods: A healthy, 32-year-old, female on oral contraceptives underwent an uneventful laparoscopic cholecystectomy for symptomatic gallbladder disease. Sequential compression devices and mini-dose unfractionated heparin were used before the procedure. The patient was discharged home on the first postoperative day without complaints. She returned 1 week later with nausea, bloating, and diffuse abdominal pain.

Results: Ultrasonography of the abdomen revealed thrombosis of the portal vein not seen in the preoperative ultrasound and the superior mesenteric vein. Computer tomography of the abdomen and pelvis on the same day confirmed this finding and showed a wedge-shaped infarction of the right lobe of the liver. The patient was anticoagulated with intravenous heparin. An extensive coagulation workup revealed elevation of the Immunoglobulin G anticardiolipin antibody. A percutaneous transhepatic portal vein thrombectomy was performed. A postprocedure duplex ultrasound of the abdomen demonstrated recannalization of the portal venous system with no flow voids. Anticoagulation therapy was continued, and the patient was discharged home with resolution of her ileus. She was maintained on a therapeutic dose of warfarin.

Conclusions: This case demonstrates an unusual complication of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. It may have resulted from the use of oral contraceptives, elevation of the Immunoglobulin G anticardiolipin antibody, unrecognized trauma, and was accentuated by the pneumoperitoneum generated for the performance of the laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Our case report provides insight and poses questions regarding necessary perioperative measures for thromboprophylaxis in young females on oral contraceptives undergoing elective laparoscopic abdominal surgery.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Portal Vein*
  • Thrombosis / etiology*