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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 26 (2012), Issue 12, Pages 905-908

Venous Thromboembolism in Cirrhosis: A Review of the Literature

Michelle Buresi,1 Russell Hull,2 and Carla S Coffin1

1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
2Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Received 13 February 2012; Accepted 12 May 2012

Copyright © 2012 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Although hemorrhage has traditionally been regarded as the most significant hemostatic complication of liver disease, there is increasing recognition that hypercoagulability is a prominent aspect of cirrhosis. Identifying markers of coagulability and monitoring anticoagulation therapy in the setting of cirrhosis is problematic. The bleeding risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis and treatment in patients with chronic liver disease is unclear and there are currently no recommendations to guide practice in this regard. In the present report, the mechanism of coagulation disturbance in chronic liver disease is reviewed with an examination of the evidence for an increased VTE risk in cirrhosis. Finally, the available evidence is assessed for prophylaxis and therapy of VTE in chronic liver disease, and the role it may play in decreasing clinical decompensation and improving survival.