The prevalence of mesenteric venous thrombosis has increased over the past 2 decades with the routine use of contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) in patients presenting with abdominal pain and those with portal hypertension. Concurrent with increasing recognition, routine and frequent use of anticoagulation has reduced the need for surgical intervention and improved outcome in these patients. Acute thrombosis often presents with abdominal pain, whereas chronic disease manifests either as an incidental finding on CT or with features of portal hypertension. Contrast-enhanced CT diagnoses about 90% of cases. The presence of collateral circulation and cavernoma around a chronically thrombosed vein differentiates chronic from acute disease. The superior mesenteric vein is often involved, whereas involvement of the inferior mesenteric vein is rare. Associated portal venous thrombosis can be seen if the disease originates in the major veins instead of the small vena rectae. Thrombophilia and local abdominal inflammatory conditions are common causes. Management is aimed at preventing bowel infarction and recurrent thrombosis. Anticoagulation, the mainstay of management, has also been safely used in patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension. This review discusses the pathogenesis of thrombosis of mesenteric veins, the diagnosis and differentiation from arterial ischemia, the emergence of the JAK2 (Janus kinase 2) sequence variation as a marker of thrombophilia and myelodysplastic neoplasms, and new anticoagulants. Algorithms for the management of acute and chronic mesenteric venous thrombosis are provided to help readers understand and remember the approach to the management of acute and chronic mesenteric venous thrombosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas