Objective: The purpose of this study was to review the use of an hourglass-shaped expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) stent-graft to reduce transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts in patients with hepatic encephalopathy refractory to conventional medical therapy.
Materials and methods: From January 2000 through December 2008, 189 transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt procedures were performed with self-expanding stent-grafts. After a mean period of 43.4 +/- 57 weeks, hepatic encephalopathy developed in 12 patients and did not respond to conventional medical therapy with lactulose, nonabsorbable antibiotics, and a protein-restricted diet. In all cases, shunt reduction was performed with an hourglass-shaped balloon-expandable ePTFE stent-graft inserted into the original shunt.
Results: Technically successful shunt reduction with an immediate increase in portosystemic gradient was achieved in all patients. Symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy disappeared a mean of 22.3 hours (range, 18-26 hours) after the procedure. After a mean follow-up period of 73.9 +/- 61.88 weeks, no recurrence of hepatic encephalopathy was found. One patient (8.3%) needed dilation of the hourglass-shaped stent-graft after 37 weeks because of recurrence of ascites. At the end of the study, five patients (41.6%) were alive in good clinical condition. Four patients (33.3%) died of cardiovascular failure 1, 2, 24, and 96 weeks after the corrective procedure. Eight months after the reduction procedure, one patient (8.3%) underwent orthotopic liver transplantation, which resulted in clinical improvement. Two patients (16.6%) were lost to follow-up 15.6 and 46.8 weeks after the procedure.
Conclusion: Shunt reduction with an hourglass-shaped ePTFE balloon-expandable stent-graft seems effective in reducing shunt flow and rapidly improving the patient's clinical condition. With this technique, shunt diameter can be modified on the basis of the patient's clinical condition.