A proportion of children with chronic liver disease have severe portal hypertension (PH) and a preserved synthetic and biliary function. In our institution these children have been managed with transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts (TIPS). We aimed to evaluate the long-term patency of TIPS placed in pediatric patients with PH.
Retrospective study of children who underwent TIPS in the last 15 years. We compared patients with cirrhotic PH to those with noncirrhotic PH, and all with an historical cohort of children who underwent a surgical portosystemic shunt. Kaplan-Meier analysis measured long-term shunt patency.
Twenty-nine patients were recorded (cirrhotic PH = 11, noncirrhotic PH = 18, mean age 10.3 years[±4.3], mean weight 36.7 kg [±20.1], mean pediatric end-stage liver disease score 4.1 [±7.1]); in 5 TIPS was placed after split liver transplantation. Indication for TIPS was variceal bleeding in 18, refractory ascites in 11. Primary patency rates at 6 months and at 1, 2, and 4 years were 91%, 83%, 60%, and 46%, respectively. At last follow-up (mean of 2.8 years [±2.4, range 0.1–8.1 years]) secondary patency (after radiological revision) was 100%. The patency rate of the historical cohort of patients who underwent a surgical portosystemic shunt was 26 of 31 (82%) at a median follow-up of 12.5 years (1.6–25.8).
TIPS appears to have a high mid-term patency rate, especially if monitored and revised. Its high clinical success rate, along with a minimally invasive approach, suggests that in this setting TIPS should not be regarded only as a bridge to liver transplantation.