Pylephlebitis: an overview of non-cirrhotic cases and factors related to outcome

Scand J Infect Dis. 2010 Dec;42(11-12):804-11. doi: 10.3109/00365548.2010.508464. Epub 2010 Aug 25.


Pylephlebitis is a condition with significant morbidity and mortality. We review herein 100 relevant case reports published since 1971. Eighty-one patients were reported with acute pylephlebitis, while the remaining patients had chronic pylephlebitis. The most common predisposing infections leading to pylephlebitis were diverticulitis and appendicitis. Cultures from blood or other tissues were positive in 77%. The infection was polymicrobial in half of the patients and the most common isolates were Bacteroides spp, Escherichia coli and Streptococcus spp. Thrombosis was extended to the superior mesenteric vein (SMV), splenic vein, and intrahepatic branches of the portal vein (PV) in 42%, 12%, and 39%, respectively. Antibiotics were administered in all and anticoagulation in 35 cases. Patients who received anticoagulation had a favourable outcome compared to those who received antibiotics alone (complete recanalization 25.7% vs 14.8% (p > 0.05), no recanalization 5.7% vs 22.2% (p < 0.05), and death 5.7% vs 22.2% (p < 0.01)). Cases with complete recanalization had prompt diagnosis and management and two-thirds were recently published. Nineteen patients died; the majority of these (73.7%) died over the period 1971-1990. In conclusion, pylephlebitis remains an entity with high morbidity and mortality, but modern imaging modalities have facilitated an earlier diagnosis and have improved the prognosis. Anticoagulation has a rather beneficial effect on patients with pylephlebitis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Appendicitis / complications*
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / mortality
  • Bacterial Infections / pathology*
  • Diverticulitis / complications*
  • Humans
  • Portal Vein / microbiology
  • Portal Vein / pathology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Venous Thrombosis / drug therapy
  • Venous Thrombosis / microbiology
  • Venous Thrombosis / mortality
  • Venous Thrombosis / pathology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents