Background & aims: In patients with cirrhosis of the liver, after the first variceal bleeding episode, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent shunting (TIPS) and endoscopic sclerotherapy plus propranolol (ES) were compared regarding prevention of variceal rebleeding and mortality.
Methods: Eighty-three patients with cirrhosis of the liver were randomized to undergo TIPS (n = 42) or ES (n = 41).
Results: Median observation time was in 1.6 years in the TIPS group and 1.45 years in the ES group. Cumulative rates of rebleeding were 23% in the TIPS group and 57% in the ES group (P = 0.0001). Hepatic encephalopathy was observed in 29% of the patients in the TIPS group and in 13% of those in the ES group (P = 0.041). Cumulative rates of survival were 69% in the TIPS group and 67% in the ES group (P = 0.62). Mortality rates in both groups were positively correlated with a higher Child's classification.
Conclusions: Although TIPS significantly reduced the rate of rebleeding, survival rates were not improved. Because TIPS is associated with an increased risk of encephalopathy and high rates of shunt dysfunction, which requires reintervention, the procedure cannot be recommended for elective treatment after the first variceal bleeding episode, but it is an effective therapy in patients in whom endoscopic sclerotherapy fails to control bleeding.