Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt in the management of ascites and hepatorenal syndrome

Marco Senzolo, Evangelos Cholongitas, Jonathan Tibballs, Andrew Burroughs, David Patch
European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2006, 18 (11): 1143-50
Ascites is the most common complication of liver cirrhosis and when it develops mortality is 50% at 5 years, apart from liver transplantation. Large volume paracentesis has been the only option for ascites refractory to medical treatment. The role of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt in the management of diuretic-resistant ascites has been evaluated in many cohort studies and five randomized trials up to now, clearly showing improvement in natriuresis and clinical efficacy. It, however, remains unclear how transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt affects survival and quality of life, because hospital admissions owing to worsening encephalopathy may counterbalance the reduced need of paracentesis. What is clear is that the patient selection is critical. About 30% of patients with ascites develop hepatorenal syndrome at 5 years, leading to high mortality in its severe and progressive form. As its main pathogenetic factor is derangement of circulatory function owing to portal hypertension, these patients may benefit from transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt, but this has been shown only in small series, in which mortality remains very high, owing to the underlying poor liver function.

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