Rady Children’s Pioneers Portal Vein Thrombosis Approach in Pediatrics

Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego has successfully launched a new approach to treating portal vein thrombosis in children.

Dr. Henri Justino, interventional cardiologist at Rady Children's Hospital, developed a hands-on approach to treatment with a technique called portal vein recanalization. The minimally invasive procedure involves advancing a small wire and then a balloon-tipped catheter to the portal vein to dig through the blockage.

The procedure is performed in Rady Children's Dickinson Image-Guided Intervention Center, which uses MRI technology and x-ray imaging to guide catheter procedures to less invasively treat children's hearts and lungs.

"Portal vein thrombosis is the number one cause of major gastrointestinal bleeding in children, and traditional treatment methods do not provide a cure," said Dr. Justino. "Portal vein recanalization is yet another innovative way that we at Rady Children's can provide children a better quality of life. This minimally-invasive procedure allows for a very quick recovery, with less pain, and the child can go home the following day and can get back to school within 2 days. Importantly, unlike the typical treatments for portal vein thrombosis that only address the bleeding vessels in the esophagus, this procedure is fundamentally different because it treats the underlying problem by re-opening the blocked portal vein – this makes it possible to completely cure a child of this problem. I'm thrilled to be able to bring this procedure to more patients."

Two centers – the Dickinson Center at Rady Children's and a Texas institution – are currently using portal vein recanalization to treat pediatric portal vein thrombosis. This procedure has been successfully performed on a pediatric patient at Rady Children's.

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