Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) is adopted to treat refractory complications of portal hypertension, such as variceal bleeding and ascites. This study aimed to assess predictors of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) development and cumulative transplant-free survival after TIPS placement in patients with cirrhosis complicated by refractory ascites and major gastroesophageal bleeding.
Materials and methods
Sixty-three cirrhotic patients who underwent TIPS positioning as a secondary prophylaxis of major upper gastroesophageal bleeding (N=30) or to control refractory ascites (N=33) were enrolled.
After a median follow-up of 26 months following TIPS insertion, only 1/30 (3.3%) patients developed reoccurrence of bleeding. Complete control of refractory ascites was recorded in 19/23 (82.6%) patients. Within the first month after TIPS placement, 34/63 (53.9%) patients developed clinically significant HE, which was associated with the baseline presence of type 2 hepatorenal syndrome (P=0.022). At the end of 90 months of follow-up, 35 (55.6%) patients were alive, 12 (19.0%) patients underwent liver transplantation, and 16 (25.4%) patients died. Independent predictors of transplant-free survival were a model for end-stage liver disease score up to 15 (P<0.001), the absence of a history of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (P=0.010) pre-TIPS, and no HE within 1 month post-TIPS (P=0.040).
TIPS insertion can be considered a safe and effective treatment in patients with cirrhosis and severe complications of portal hypertension that are not manageable with standard treatments. Interestingly, if confirmed in future studies, the history of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis pre-TIPS could be added to the model for end-stage liver disease score as a strong baseline predictor of post-TIPS mortality.