Splanchnic vein thrombosis (SVT) is an uncommon but potentially life-threatening disease usually related to different underlying clinical conditions. The risk of SVT recurrences is high over time in patients with an underlying permanent prothrombotic condition. Vitamin K antagonists (VKA) represent the mainstay of treatment for SVT. Data about the efficacy and safety of direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) are reported in the literature for the treatment of acute SVT, but less is known about their application for the secondary prophylaxis of venous thromboembolism (VTE). The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of long-term DOACs therapy in patients at high-risk of thrombosis, compared to VKA.
This is a retrospective single-centre study including 70 patients with SVT on long-term anticoagulant treatment with VKA followed-up at our Units between January 2017 and December 2019. All the patients were at high thrombotic risk defined as the presence of a permanent prothrombotic condition requiring long-term anticoagulation. During follow-up, 28 patients were shifted to DOACs and their clinical outcomes were compared to those of the patients who continued VKA therapy. All the arterial and venous thrombotic events of the splanchnic and extra-splanchnic districts as well as the haemorrhagic adverse events occurring during follow-up were recorded.
Of the seventy patients enrolled in the study, 36 patients (51.4%) had a single-segment involvement thrombosis (28.5% of portal vein, 7.1% of superior mesenteric vein, 4.3% of splenic vein, 11.5% of hepatic veins) and 34 patients (48.6%) had multi-segment involvement at the time of diagnosis. 42 patients (60%) continued VKA therapy and 28 (40%) were switched to DOACs. Median follow-up was 6 years (range 2-8) during VKA and 1.9 years (range 1-5.2) during DOACs. The incidence of thrombotic events was similar between patients on VKA and those on DOACs. Patients on VKA developed deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and of the patients on DOACs 1 developed NSTEMI and 1 DVT. No major haemorrhagic events occurred. Minor bleedings occurred in 26% of patients on VKA and in none of the DOACs patients (P: 0.09).
Our results highlight that DOACs could represent an effective and safe alternative to the VKA for secondary prophylaxis in SVT patients at high risk of thrombosis.

© 2020 Stichting European Society for Clinical Investigation Journal Foundation.