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Rady Children’s Successfully Pioneers Portal Vein Thrombosis Procedure Opening Up New Possibilities in Pediatric Care

SAN DIEGO – April 4, 2023 – Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, the largest children’s hospital on the West Coast and one of the nation’s top pediatric health care systems, 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. 

Dr. Justino and his interdisciplinary colleagues are continually brainstorming how these newer approaches can be harnessed within additional practice areas to help even more sick children.  

To learn more about Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, visit us here 

About Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego 

Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego is the largest children’s hospital on the West Coast and one of the nation’s top pediatric health care systems. Consistently ranked in all 10 pediatric specialties by U.S. News and World Report, Rady Children’s includes a 511-bed pediatric hospital that serves as the largest provider of comprehensive pediatric medical services in San Diego, southern Riverside and Imperial counties. With more than 40 locations, Rady Children’s is the only health system in the San Diego area dedicated exclusively to pediatric health care and is the region’s only designated pediatric trauma center. Rady Children’s is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations to support its mission. For more information, visit and find us on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo.