Background/aim: Variceal bleeding is the most severe complication in patients with cystic fibrosis-associated liver cirrhosis, who often do not have severe respiratory failure. The advent of liver transplantation has broadened the treatment options. The purpose of this study was to report our experience with the management of portal hypertension.
Methods: Clinical and biochemical features, outcome of liver disease and management of portal hypertension were analyzed retrospectively in 44 children with cystic fibrosis-associated liver cirrhosis.
Results: The mean age at diagnosis of liver cirrhosis was 9 years. Eighty-six per cent of the children developed esophageal varices, 50% of whom bled early in their second decade. Injection sclerotherapy of esophageal varices did not prevent recurrence of bleeding in five of seven children. Elective surgical portosystemic shunting was successfully performed in nine of 11 patients considered being at high risk of bleeding or with recurrent bleeding episodes but without severe pulmonary failure and liver dysfunction, allowing prolonged post-operative survival up to 15 years. Two of three children who underwent isolated liver transplantation for severe portal hypertension died post-operatively.
Conclusions: Management emphasis in cystic fibrosis patients with liver cirrhosis should be on control of bleeding and variceal decompression. These results suggest that surgical portosystemic shunting may be considered to relieve portal hypertension in patients without progressive liver failure and severe lung disease as an alternative to liver transplantation. With this policy, patients may be stabilized for many years until progression of liver or lung diseases indicates liver or lung-liver transplantation.