▪ Objective: To determine the safety and efficacy of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts (TIPS) in controlling bleeding from esophageal varices in patients awaiting liver transplantation.
▪ Design: Prospective, uncontrolled trial.
▪ Setting: University medical center with an active liver transplant program.
▪ Patients: Thirteen patients referred for liver transplantation with either active variceal hemorrhage or recurrent variceal hemorrhage despite sclerotherapy; four patients had been previously treated with surgical portosystemic shunts.
▪ Intervention: An intrahepatic portosystemic shunt created via a transjugular approach to the hepatic veins using expandable, flexible metallic stents.
▪ Measurements: Portal pressures before and after the creation of the shunt, the direction of portal blood flow at differing diameters of the shunts, procedure-related complications, and outcome in terms of survival, liver transplantation, and recurrent variceal bleeding.
▪ Main Results: The transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt was placed successfully in 13 patients, and bleeding was controlled acutely in all 13. After the procedure, the mean portal pressure decreased from 34 ± 8.9 cm H2O to 22.4 ± 5.4 cm H2O (P < 0.001). No complications were associated with the procedure; however, two patients died of causes unrelated to the procedure. Seven patients subsequently underwent liver transplantation and are doing well, and three patients are being managed conservatively. Bleeding recurred in one patient 102 days after the procedure secondary to shunt occlusion caused by neointimal proliferation.
▪ Conclusion: Placement of a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt is apparently safe and effective therapy for variceal hemorrhage in patients referred for liver transplantation.