Primary prevention of hepatic encephalopathy post-TIPS: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Medicine (Baltimore). 2023 Sep 22;102(38):e35266. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000035266.


Background: Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) can be an effective treatment for cirrhotic patients who develop variceal bleeding and ascites. However, TIPS placement is associated with an increased risk of developing hepatic encephalopathy (HE). Recently, there have been efforts to use the typical medical therapies prophylactically in patients undergoing TIPS placement to prevent post-TIPS HE.

Methods: We conducted literature searches in MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, Scopus, and Cochrane to examine studies that use prophylactic medical therapy for preventing post-TIPS HE. A narrative synthesis and grading of recommendations assessment assessment were done for all studies. Meta-analysis was performed for eligible studies using the Mantel-Haenszel method random-effects model. Nine hundred twenty-one articles were screened and 5 studies were included in the study after 2 levels of screening. The medications studied were rifaximin, lactulose, lactitol, L-Ornithine-L-aspartate (LOLA), albumin, and combination therapies.

Results: Narrative results showed that lactulose, lactitol, LOLA and albumin prophylaxis were not associated with reduction in HE occurrence or mortality. A combination of rifaximin and lactulose was found to be associated with lower occurrence of HE, and the results were not different when LOLA was added. Meta-analysis (n = 3) showed that rifaximin treatment was not associated with changes in HE occurrences.

Conclusion: In conclusion, a vast majority of medications were not found to be effective post-TIPS HE prophylaxis when used alone. A rifaximin and lactulose combination therapy may be beneficial. Overall, there is significant limitation in the current data and more studies are needed to yield more robust meta-analysis results in the future.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Albumins
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy* / etiology
  • Hepatic Encephalopathy* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Lactulose / therapeutic use
  • Primary Prevention
  • Rifaximin


  • lactitol
  • Lactulose
  • Rifaximin
  • Albumins