Hepatic Veno-Occlusive Disease

Hepatic veno-occlusive disease is a clinical syndrome characterized by hepatomegaly, ascites, weight gain and jaundice, due to sinusoidal congestion which can be caused by alkaloid ingestion, but the most frequent cause is haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (STC) and is also seen after solid organ transplantation. The incidence of veno occlusive disease (VOD) after STC ranges from 0 to 70%, but is decreasing. Survival is good when VOD is a mild form, but when it is severe and associated with an increase of hepatic venous pressure gradient > 20 mmHg, and mortality is about 90%. Prevention remains the best therapeutic strategy, by using non-myeloablative conditioning regimens before STC. Prophylactic administration of ursodeoxycholic acid, being an antioxidant and antiapoptotic agent, can have some benefit in reducing overall mortality. Defibrotide, which has pro-fibrinolytic and antithrombotic properties, is the most effective therapy; decompression of the sinusoids by a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) can be tried, especially to treat VOD after liver transplantation and when multiorgan failure (MOF) is not present. Liver transplantation can be the last option, but can not be considered a standard rescue therapy, because usually the concomitant presence of multiorgan failure contraindicates this procedure.

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