BACKGROUND: Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts (TIPS) are an established method for the treatment of the complications of portal hypertension. Recent reports have suggested that TIPS require frequent follow-up and may interfere with orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). METHODS: Retrospective chart review was performed of ultrasound studies, angiographic studies, and complications of the first 100 patients treated consecutively with TIPS from February 1992 through October 1995. RESULTS: Ninety-seven patients had functional TIPS. Thirty-one percent of patients treated emergently survived, significantly less than the 96% survival of elective patients. Fifty percent of the shunts were found to require angioplasty by 5 months. Seventeen patients treated with OLT did well, without intraoperative bleeding problems, and are alive. CONCLUSIONS: The TIPS method treats successfully the complications of portal hypertension but requires careful follow-up. The technique may be used prior to OLT. For non- OLT candidates, the cost effectiveness of TIPS versus surgical shunting remains in question.
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