SAN ANTONIO, Tex.–Oncology nurses are in an ideal position to educate patients with gastrointestinal malignancies and portal vein thrombosis (PVT) about risk factors, clinical presentation, complications, and treatment options to prevent further extension of the clot, according to a presentation at the ONS 41st Annual Congress.1

“PVT is the partial or complete occlusion of the lumen of the portal vein by a thrombus, and can be classified as either acute or chronic” said Natasha Ramrup, MSN, CNS, AOCNS, clinical nurse specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York.

Although PVT is increasingly diagnosed either symptomatically or incidentally by radiographic studies performed during diagnosis and surveillance of liver cancer, uniform management guidelines have not been established. The lack of guidelines is challenging for the medical and surgical management of PVT, which can lead to high morbidity and mortality.

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Oncology nurses should have a thorough understanding of PVT and its sequelae. “This will lead to better patient outcomes,” Ramrup noted.

Oncology nurses should be aware that patients with acute PVT may present with abdominal pain, fever, and dyspepsia. Those with chronic PVT most often have gastrointestinal bleeding. Complications of PVT include thrombus extension, intestinal ischemia and infarction, esophageal and gastric varices, and portal hypertension.

Oncology nurse driven education plans are vital to the care of patients with PVT.  

“Patient education should be an ongoing endeavor throughout the cancer spectrum for this patient population and it is fundamental in the pursuit of excellent patient outcomes,” Ramrup concluded.


1. Ramrup N, Koo D. When do we treat portal vein thrombosis in patients with gastrointestinal malignancies? Educating for better patient outcomes–implications for nursing. Oral presentation at: 2016 Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress; April 28-May 1, 2016; San Antonio, TX.