Background & aims: A 50% dysfunction rate at 1 year is one of the main drawbacks of the transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt procedure. Preliminary experimental and clinical studies suggest that the use of stents covered with polytetrafluoroethylene could tremendously decrease this risk.
Methods: Eighty patients with cirrhosis and uncontrolled bleeding (n = 23), recurrent bleeding (n = 25), or refractory ascites (n = 32) were randomized to be treated by transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts with either a polytetrafluoroethylene-covered stent (group 1; 39 patients) or a usual uncovered prosthesis (group 2; 41 patients). Follow-up Doppler ultrasound was scheduled at day 7, at 1 month, and then every 3 months for 2 years. Angiography and portosystemic pressure gradient measurements were performed 6, 12, and 24 months after the transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt procedure and whenever dysfunction was suspected. Dysfunction was defined as a >50% reduction of the lumen of the shunt at angiography or a portosystemic pressure gradient >12 mm Hg.
Results: After a median follow-up of 300 days, 5 patients (13%) in group 1 and 18 (44%) in group 2 experienced shunt dysfunction (P < 0.001). Clinical relapse occurred in 3 patients (8%) in group 1 and 12 (29%) in group 2 (P < 0.05). Actuarial rates of encephalopathy were 21% in group 1 and 41% in group 2 at 1 year (not significant). Estimated probabilities of survival were 71% and 60% at 1 year and 65% and 41% at 2 years in groups 1 and 2, respectively (not significant).
Conclusions: The use of polytetrafluoroethylene-covered prostheses improves transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt patency and decreases the number of clinical relapses and reinterventions without increasing the risk of encephalopathy.