Bleeding and thrombosis in cirrhotic patients: what really matters?

Dig Liver Dis. 2012 Apr;44(4):275-9. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2011.10.016. Epub 2011 Nov 25.


Bleeding complications, particularly in the gastro-intestinal tract, may complicate the clinical course of liver cirrhosis. Coexistence of abnormal global tests exploring the platelet and clotting systems generated the hypothesis that cirrhotic patients have "coagulopathy" predisposing to bleeding complications. Using more sophisticated laboratory methods this hypothesis has been partly confuted as cirrhotic patients actually disclose an ongoing prothrombotic state in the portal and systemic circulation that could predispose to thrombosis. Recent data of the literature support this hypothesis as portal vein thrombosis and peripheral thrombosis are frequent features of cirrhosis. We reviewed the literature data to assess the prevalence of bleeding and thrombotic complication in cirrhosis and the role of clotting activation in precipitating them. Whilst it appears scarcely relevant the interplay between the so called "coagulopathy" and bleeding, the interplay between clotting activation and thrombosis seems to be relevant but needs more accurate investigation in larger study populations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy / adverse effects
  • Blood Coagulation Disorders / complications*
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / adverse effects
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Paracentesis / adverse effects
  • Portal Vein*
  • Venous Thrombosis / etiology*