Nonselective beta-blockers and development of portal vein thrombosis in liver cirrhosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Xiangbo Xu, Xiaozhong Guo, Valerio De Stefano, Gilberto Silva-Junior, Hemant Goyal, Zhaohui Bai, Qingchun Zhao, Xingshun Qi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Portal vein thrombosis (PVT), which is associated with reduced portal vein velocity, is considered to be an indicator for worse outcomes in liver cirrhosis. Nonselective beta-blockers (NSBBs), which are widely used for primary and secondary prophylaxis of esophageal variceal bleeding in liver cirrhosis, can significantly decrease the portal vein velocity. We proposed a hypothesis that the use of NSBBs might facilitate the development of PVT in cirrhotic patients. The PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library databases were searched. Major meeting abstracts and randomized-controlled trials regarding the use of NSBBs in liver cirrhosis were also hand-searched. The number of patients who developed PVT in groups treated with or without NSBBs was pooled. Odds ratios (ORs) or risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated. Subgroup meta-analyses were performed according to the type of studies, region, and study quality. Meta-regression and sensitivity analyses were performed to explore the source of heterogeneity. Nine of the 6416 retrieved papers were finally included. Overall, meta-analysis demonstrated that NSBBs were significantly associated with the development of PVT (OR 4.62, 95% CI 2.50–8.53; p < 0.00001). The heterogeneity was statistically significant (I2 = 80%; p < 0.00001). Subgroup meta-analyses still demonstrated a significantly positive association of NSBBs with the development of PVT in cohort studies (RR 2.57, 95% CI 1.46–4.51; p = 0.001) and case–control studies (OR 8.17, 95% CI 2.46–27.06; p = 0.0006). Sensitivity analyses based on subgroups find the source of heterogeneity. Based on the systematic review and meta-analysis, we found that the use of NSBBs increased a 4.62-fold risk of PVT in cirrhotic patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-481
Number of pages14
JournalHepatology International
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Nonselective beta-blockers
  • Portal hypertension
  • Portal vein thrombosis
  • Propranolol


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