Bleeding ectopic varices in cirrhosis: the role of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent shunts

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2008 Aug 1;28(3):294-303. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2008.03719.x.


Background: Bleeding from ectopic varices is uncommon but can be difficult to manage.

Aim: To report our experience of the use of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent shunts (TIPSS) in the management of uncontrolled bleeding from ectopic varices.

Methods: A retrospective study of patients who had TIPSS for bleeding ectopic varices. Patients were selected from a dedicated data base.

Results: Over 14 years, of 750 TIPSS insertions, 28 patients had TIPSS for bleeding ectopic varices (Child-Pugh score: 8.8 +/- 1.8). Varices were rectal (12), stomal (8), duodenal (4) and at other sites (4). Concomitant variceal embolization was performed in five. Portal pressure gradient fell from 18.2 +/- 6.4 to 7.2 +/- 3.5 mmHg. TIPSS achieved haemostasis in six of nine patients who presented with active bleeding. Five patients rebled from ectopic varices. This was related to shunt dysfunction in two and responded to shunt interventions. Three patients rebled despite a functional shunt. Of these, thrombin controlled bleeding in one. Eight patients developed hepatic encephalopathy post-TIPSS.

Conclusions: Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent shunt is a safe and effective treatment for bleeding ectopic varices. Rebleeding from ectopic varices related to shunt dysfunction responds to shunt intervention. A significant proportion of patients have rebleeding despite a patent shunt, when other adjunctive measures like thrombin injection may be tried.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / complications
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / mortality
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / mortality
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal / complications
  • Hypertension, Portal / mortality
  • Hypertension, Portal / surgery*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / mortality
  • Liver Cirrhosis / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Portasystemic Shunt, Transjugular Intrahepatic / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications / surgery
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stents*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome