Background: The role of variceal embolisation at the time of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) creation for the prevention of gastro-oesophageal variceal rebleeding remains controversial. This study aimed to evaluate whether adding variceal embolisation to TIPS placement could reduce the incidence of rebleeding after TIPS in patients with cirrhosis.
Methods: We did an open-label, randomised controlled trial at one university hospital in China. Eligible patients were aged 18-75 years with cirrhosis and had variceal bleeding in the past 6 weeks, and they were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive TIPS (with a covered stent in both groups) plus variceal embolisation (TIPS plus embolisation group) or TIPS alone (TIPS group) to prevent variceal rebleeding. Randomisation was done using a web-based randomisation system using a Pocock and Simon's minimisation method, stratified by Child-Pugh class (A vs B vs C). Clinicians and patients were not masked to treatment allocation; individuals involved in data analysis were masked to treatment assignment. The primary endpoint was the 2-year cumulative incidence of variceal rebleeding after randomisation, and analysis was by intention to treat. The trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02119988.
Findings: Between June 16, 2014, and Feb 3, 2016, 205 patients were screened, of whom 134 were randomly allocated to the TIPS plus embolisation group (n=69) and the TIPS group (n=65). TIPS placement and variceal embolisation was successful in all 134 patients, all were included in the analysis. There was no significant difference in the 2-year cumulative incidence of variceal rebleeding between the two groups (TIPS plus embolisation 11·6% [95% CI 4·0-19·1] vs TIPS 13·8% [5·4-22·2]; hazard ratio 0·82 [95% CI 0·42-1·61]; p=0·566). Adverse events were similar between the two groups; the most common adverse events were peptic ulcer or gastritis (12 [17%] of patients in the TIPS plus embolisation group vs 13 [20%] of patients in the TIPS group), new or worsening ascites (ten [14%] vs six [9%]), and hepatocellular carcinoma (four [6%] vs six [9%]). The numbers of deaths were also similar between groups (24 [35%] vs 25 [38%]) INTERPRETATION: Adding variceal embolisation to TIPS did not significantly reduce the incidence of variceal rebleeding in patients with cirrhosis. Our findings do not support concomitant variceal embolisation during TIPS for the prevention of variceal rebleeding.
Funding: National Key Technology R&D Program, Boost Program of Xijing Hospital, and China Postdoctoral Science Foundation.
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