Purpose: To evaluate the transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) as primary treatment in patients with cirrhosis and severe ascites.
Materials and methods: A TIPS placement was attempted in 54 consecutive patients with intractable ascites. Clinical assessment findings, shunt patency, complications, and survival were analyzed.
Results: A TIPS was successfully placed in 50 patients (93%). Follow-up for clinical effectiveness in 51 patients was a mean of 285 days (range, 1-981 days). Forty patients (78%) gained clinical benefit from the shunt. Of these, 29 (57%) had a complete response (required no further paracentesis) and 11 patients (22%) had a partial response (required less frequent but additional paracentesis for control of ascites). The absence of preprocedure renal insufficiency (creatinine < 1.5 mg/dL [< 130 mumol/L]) was the only characteristic identified as an indicator of clinical success (P < .05). Eleven patients (22%) required shunt revision during follow-up to gain or prolong control of symptoms. Cumulative survival in the population evaluated for clinical efficacy was 53% at 6 months and 48% at 1 year. A complete response was the only variable that indicated increased survival (P < .05; R2 = 12%) with a 6-month survival rate of 76% and a 1-year rate of 71%.
Conclusion: TIPS placement appears to be effective as a primary treatment of patients with cirrhosis and severe ascites.