Comparision between portosystemic shunts and endoscopic therapy for prevention of variceal re-bleeding: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Chin Med J (Engl). 2019 May 5;132(9):1087-1099. doi: 10.1097/CM9.0000000000000212.


Background: Portosystemic shunts, including surgical portosystemic shunts and transjugular intra-hepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS), may have benefit over endoscopic therapy (ET) for treatment of variceal bleeding in patients with cirrhotic portal hypertension; however, whether there being a survival benefit among them remains unclear. This study was to compare the effect of three above-mentioned therapies on the short-term and long-term survival in patient with cirrhosis.

Methods: Using the terms "variceal hemorrhage or variceal bleeding or variceal re-bleeding" OR "esophageal and gastric varices" OR "portal hypertension" and "liver cirrhosis," the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed, Embase, and the references of identified trials were searched for human randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published in any language with full texts or abstracts (last search June 2017). Risk ratio (RR) estimates with 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated using random effects model by Review Manager. The quality of the included studies was evaluated using the Cochrane Collaboration's tool for the assessment of the risk of bias.

Results: Twenty-six publications comprising 28 RCTs were included in this analysis. These studies included a total of 2845 patients: 496 (4 RCTs) underwent either surgical portosystemic shunts or TIPS, 1244 (9 RCTs) underwent either surgical portosystemic shunts or ET, and 1105 (15 RCTs) underwent either TIPS or ET. There was no significant difference in overall mortality and 30-day or 6-week survival among three interventions. Compared with TIPS and ET, separately, surgical portosystemic shunts were both associated with a lower bleeding-related mortality (RR = 0.07, 95% CI = 0.01-0.32; P < 0.001; RR = 0.17, 95% CI = 0.06-0.51, P < 0.005) and rate of variceal re-bleeding (RR = 0.23, 95% CI = 0.10-0.51, P < 0.001; RR = 0.10, 95% CI = 0.04-0.24, P < 0.001), without a significant difference in the rate of postoperative hepatic encephalopathy (RR = 0.52, 95% CI = 0.25-1.00, P = 0.14; RR = 1.09, 95% CI = 0.59-2.01, P = 0.78). TIPS showed a trend toward lower variceal re-bleeding (RR = 0.46, 95% CI = 0.36-0.58, P < 0.001), but a higher incidence of hepatic encephalopathy than ET (RR = 1.78, 95% CI = 1.34-2.36, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: The overall analysis revealed that there seem to be no short-term and long-term survival advantage, but surgical portosystemic shunts are with the lowest bleeding-related mortality among the three therapies. Surgical portosystemic shunts may be the most effective without an increased risk of hepatic encephalopathy and TIPS is superior to ET but at the cost of a higher incidence of hepatic encephalopathy. However, some of findings should be interpreted with caution due to the lower level of evidence and the existence of significant heterogeneity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Confidence Intervals
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / pathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Portasystemic Shunt, Transjugular Intrahepatic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic