RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Portosystemic shunt versus orthotopic liver transplantation for the Budd-Chiari syndrome.

We have analyzed the indications and results of shunt operation versus orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) in 22 patients with Budd-Chiari syndrome (BCS). The underlying cause of the syndrome was similar between the two groups and was related to myeloproliferative disorders or the use of birth control pills in 18 of 22 patients. The results of biopsies of the liver showed centrilobular congestion and necrosis in all candidates who underwent shunting and the presence of fibrosis and cirrhosis in the OLT candidates. The indications for shunts included symptoms related to portal hypertension only and well-preserved synthetic hepatic function. Ten patients were treated with 12 shunt procedures, including mesoatrial (eight patients) and side to side portacaval shunt (four patients). Significant complications after shunt procedure included fulminant (one of ten patients) and progressive (one of ten patients) hepatic failure requiring urgent OLT; one death occurred because of pulmonary sepsis. Indications for OLT were signs of end stage liver expressed by severe portal hypertension and variceal bleeding (four of 14 patients), progressive encephalopathy (seven of 14 patients) and poor synthetic function (bilirubin greater than 3 milligrams per deciliter in eight of 14 patients and albumin less than 3.0 grams per liter, or both, in ten of 14 patients). Fourteen patients were treated with 16 OLT, three patients had retransplantation for primary nonfunction graft (two of 14 patients) or chronic rejection (one of 14 patients). There were two early deaths in the group. With a follow-up period between two months to five years, 12 of 14 patients undergoing OLT are alive, fully functional and have normal liver function tests. Seven of ten patients who had shunts are alive, six are able to maintain normal activity and one has progressive end stage hepatic disease and is not a candidate for OLT. However, the hepatic function continues progressively to be abnormal. Various options are available for the treatment of the syndrome. Portosystemic decompression is effective and should be considered at the early stage of the disease, prior to the development of significant hepatic failure. However, few of the patients will continue to have slow, but progressive hepatic failure and may require OLT. The only effective treatment for end stage hepatic disease secondary to the BCS is OLT.

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