Pylephlebitis, or suppurative thrombophlebitis of the portal vein, typically occurs in the context of an intraabdominal infection or abdominal sepsis. Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment. The role of anticoagulation in the management of pylephlebitis is controversial, and data regarding its impact on outcomes is limited. The records of 67 consecutive patients with pylephlebitis treated at our institution over a 19 year period were retrospectively reviewed. Data was gathered regarding their baseline characteristics, presentations, management, and outcomes. Patients who did and did not receive anticoagulation were compared. Outcomes of interest included survival, portal vein thrombosis (PVT) resolution, development of chronic symptomatic portal hypertension, and major bleeding. Forty-seven patients received anticoagulation and 20 did not. The anticoagulated and non-anticoagulated groups did not differ significantly with respect to potential covariates or confounders. Anticoagulated patients had significantly higher rates of PVT resolution than non-anticoagulated patients (58% vs. 21%, p = 0.0201). This translated to lower rates of future chronic portal hypertensive symptoms among anticoagulated patients (11% vs. 47%, p = 0.0034). Anticoagulated patients had a trend toward improved survival however this improvement was not significant on multivariable analysis. There was no significant difference in rates of major bleeding between groups. Thrombophilia testing was common in this cohort however the occurrence of meaningful positive results was exceedingly low. Anticoagulation significantly improves the rate of PVT resolution, and significantly reduces the rate of chronic symptomatic portal hypertension, among patients with pylephlebitis. Treatment of pylephlebitis should incorporate the use of systemic anticoagulation whenever possible.
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