Gut 44:568-574 doi:10.1136/gut.44.4.568
  • Liver disease

Managing Budd-Chiari syndrome: a retrospective review of percutaneous hepatic vein angioplasty and surgical shunting

  1. N C Fishera,
  2. I McCaffertyb,
  3. M Dolapcia,
  4. M Walia,
  5. J A C Buckelsa,
  6. S P Olliffb,
  7. E Eliasa
  1. aLiver Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK, bDepartment of Radiology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK
  1. Dr N C Fisher, Department of Gastroenterology, New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton WV10 0QP, UK.
  • Accepted 7 October 1998


BACKGROUND The role of percutaneous hepatic vein angioplasty in the management of Budd-Chiari syndrome has not been well defined. Over a 10 year period at our unit, we have often used this technique in cases of short length hepatic vein stenosis or occlusion, reserving surgical mesocaval shunting for cases of diffuse hepatic vein occlusion or failed angioplasty.

AIMS To review the outcome of angioplasty and surgical shunting to define their respective roles.

PATIENTS All patients treated by angioplasty or surgical shunting for non-malignant hepatic vein obstruction over a ten year period from 1987 to 1996.

METHODS A case note review of pretreatment features and clinical outcome.

RESULTS Angioplasty was attempted in 21 patients with patent hepatic vein branches and was succesful in 18; in three patients treatment was unsuccessful and these patients had surgical shunts. Fifteen patients were treated by surgical shunting only. Mortality according to definitive treatment was 3/18 following angioplasty and 8/18 following surgery; in most cases this reflected high risk status prior to treatment. Venous or shunt reocclusion rates were similar for both groups and were associated with subtherapeutic warfarin in half of these cases. Most surviving patients in both groups are asymptomatic although one surgical patient has chronic hepatic encephalopathy.

CONCLUSION With appropriate case selection, many patients with Budd-Chiari syndrome caused by short length hepatic vein stenosis or occlusion may be managed successfully by angioplasty alone. Medium term outcome is good following this procedure provided that anticoagulation is maintained. Further follow up is required to assess for definitive benefits but we suggest that this should be included as a valid initial approach in the algorithm for management of Budd-Chiari syndrome.


  • Abbreviations:
    Budd-Chiari syndrome
    hepatic vein
    inferior vena cava
    percutaneous hepatic vein angioplasty
    short length hepatic vein stenosis
    transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunting