Purpose: Portal hypertension (PHT) and its sequelae are the most clinically important manifestations in cystic fibrosis-related liver disease (CFLD). This paper aimed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a pre-emptive transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) to prevent PHT-related complications in pediatric patients with CFLD.
Methods: This was a prospective single-arm study on pediatric patients with CFLD, signs of PHT, and preserved liver function who underwent a pre-emptive TIPS in a single tertiary CF center between 2007 and 2012. The long-term safety and clinical efficacy were assessed.
Results: A pre-emptive TIPS was performed on seven patients with a mean age of 9.2 years (± standard deviation: 2.2). The procedure was technically successful in all patients, with an estimated median primary patency of 10.7 years [interquartile range (IQR) 0.5-10.7)]. No variceal bleeding was observed during the median follow-up of 9 years (IQR 8.1-12.9). In two patients with advanced PHT and rapidly progressive liver disease, severe thrombocytopenia could not be stopped. Subsequent liver transplantation revealed biliary cirrhosis in both patients. In the remaining patients with early PHT and milder porto-sinusoidal vascular disease, symptomatic hypersplenism did not occur, and liver function remained stable until the end of the follow-up. Inclusion for pre-emptive TIPS was discontinued in 2013 following an episode of severe hepatic encephalopathy.
Conclusion: TIPS is a feasible treatment with encouraging long-term primary patency to avoid variceal bleeding in selected patients with CF and PHT. However, as the progression of liver fibrosis, thrombocytopenia, and splenomegaly is inevitable, the clinical benefits due to pre-emptive placement appear to be minor.
Keywords: Cystic fibrosis; children; hypersplenism; liver diseases; portal hypertension; primary prophylaxis; transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt; variceal bleeding.