Background: Post-transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent shunt (TIPSS) hepatic encephalopathy (HE) can occur in up to one third of patients. In 5%, this can be refractory to optimal medical treatment and may require shunt modification. The efficacy of shunt modification has been poorly studied.
Aims: To evaluate the efficacy of and natural history following TIPSS modification for treatment of refractory HE.
Methods: From a dedicated database, we selected and further studied patients who had TIPSS modification for refractory HE.
Results: Over a 14 year period, of 733 TIPSS insertions, 211(29%) patients developed HE post-TIPSS. In 38 patients, shunt modification (reduction (n = 9) and occlusion (n = 29)) was performed for refractory HE. Indications for TIPSS were: variceal bleeding (n = 32), refractory ascites (n = 5), and other (n = 1). Child’s grades A, B, and C were noted in 11%, 47%, and 42% of cases, respectively. HE improved in 58% of patients and remained unchanged or worsened in 42%, with similar results for occlusions and reductions. Following shunt modification, variceal bleeding recurred in three patients and ascites in three. Twenty five patients have died (liver related in 15) at a median duration of 10.2 months. Three patients died due to procedure related complications following shunt occlusions (mesenteric infarction (n = 2) and septicaemia (n = 1)). Median survival of patients whose HE did not improve following shunt modification was 79 days compared with 278 days in patients whose did (p<0.05). No variables independently predicted response to shunt modification.
Conclusions: TIPSS modification is a useful option for patients with refractory HE following TIPSS insertion. Due to the significant risk of iatrogenic complications with shunt occlusions, shunt reduction is a safer and preferred option.
- TIPSS, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent shunt
- HE, hepatic encephalopathy
- VBL, variceal band ligation
- transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent shunt
- TIPSS modification
- TIPSS occlusion
- hepatic encephalopathy
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