The first decade of the transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS): state of the art


Medizin. Universitätsklinik, Hugstetterstr. 55, 79106 Freiburg, Germany


ABSTRACT— The transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) is an interventional treatment resulting in decompression of the portal system by creation of a side-to-side portosystemic anastomosis. Since its introduction 10 years ago, more than 500 publications have appeared demonstrating rapid acceptance and increasing clinical use. This review summarizes the present knowledge of technical aspects and complications, follow-up of patients, and indications. With respect to the technique, the TIPS procedure is probably one of the most difficult interventions and, therefore, technical success and complications clearly depend on the skills of the operator. Thus, the number and kind of complications reported in this review do not necessarily relate to the procedural complications of an experienced center. The follow-up of the TIPS patient has to assess shunt patency, liver function and hepatic encephalopathy. Shunt patency can best be monitored by duplex-sonography. Routine radiological revision seems not to be helpful and does not improve results, i.e., rebleeding and survival. Short term patency may be improved by anticoagulation, while such a treatment does not influence long-term patency. With respect to the indications of TIPS, much is known about treatment of variceal bleeding. The nine randomized studies that are available to date show that survival is comparable between patients receiving TIPS or endoscopic treatment. The second group of patients is the group with refractory ascites and related complications, such as hepatorenal syndrome and hepatic hydrothorax. It has been demonstrated that TIPS improves these complications, but randomized studies are still lacking. In addition, TIPS has been applied successfully to patients with Budd-Chiari syndrome, portal vein thrombosis, before liver transplantation, and for the treatment of ectopic portal hypertensive bleeding.