Splanchnic Vein Thrombosis: Current Perspectives

Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2019 Oct 22:15:449-461. doi: 10.2147/VHRM.S197732. eCollection 2019.


Splanchnic vein thrombosis (SVT) including portal, mesenteric, splenic vein thrombosis and the Budd-Chiari syndrome, is a manifestation of unusual site venous thromboembolism. SVT presents with a lower incidence than deep vein thrombosis of the lower limbs and pulmonary embolism, with portal vein thrombosis and Budd-Chiari syndrome being respectively the most and the least common presentations of SVT. SVT is classified as provoked if secondary to a local or systemic risk factor, or unprovoked if the causative trigger cannot be identified. Diagnostic evaluation is often affected by the lack of specificity of clinical manifestations: the presence of one or more risk factors in a patient with a high clinical suspicion may suggest the execution of diagnostic tests. Doppler ultrasonography represents the first line diagnostic tool because of its accuracy and wide availability. Further investigations, such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance angiography, should be executed in case of suspected thrombosis of the mesenteric veins, suspicion of SVT-related complications, or to complete information after Doppler ultrasonography. Once SVT diagnosis is established, a careful patient evaluation should be performed in order to assess the risks and benefits of the anticoagulant therapy and to drive the optimal treatment intensity. Due to the low quality and large heterogeneity of published data, guidance documents and expert opinion could direct therapeutic decision, suggesting which patients to treat, which anticoagulant to use and the duration of treatment.

Keywords: Budd-Chiari syndrome; mesenteric vein thrombosis; portal vein thrombosis; splanchnic vein thrombosis; splenic vein thrombosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Mesenteric Veins* / diagnostic imaging
  • Mesenteric Veins* / physiopathology
  • Portal Vein* / diagnostic imaging
  • Portal Vein* / physiopathology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Splanchnic Circulation
  • Splenic Vein* / diagnostic imaging
  • Splenic Vein* / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler
  • Venous Thrombosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Venous Thrombosis* / drug therapy
  • Venous Thrombosis* / epidemiology
  • Venous Thrombosis* / physiopathology


  • Anticoagulants