Portal vein thrombosis (PVT) can be a difficult clinical problem to assess and manage. A high index of suspicion is needed for a PVT diagnosis given the subtle presentation and potentially serious long-term complications. It should be considered a clue to the presence of one or several underlying disorders, including prothrombotic disorders, whether or not a local precipitating factor is identified. The accruing evidence shows that acute PVT can and probably should be treated with anticoagulation or thrombolytic agents in an effort to prevent extension of thrombus, mesenteric vessel occlusion, and portal hypertension. However, chronic PVT should be treated conservatively with measures to control major consequences related to portal hypertension. Anticoagulation therapy duration should be tailored to the identified predisposing factors.
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