Objective: To determine rates of survival, long-term patency, and recurrent variceal hemorrhage among patients with alcoholic cirrhosis treated by partial portacaval shunt.
Design: Single-institution cohort follow-up study of 72 consecutive patients who underwent small-diameter portacaval H-graft shunt with collateral ablation during a 10-year period (1981 through 1990). Subjects were enrolled and followed up for up to 15 years. Shunt patency was assessed by portography and/or ultrasonography. We performed 7-year Kaplan-Meier analyses of survival (in 65 patients in Child classes A and B), shunt patency, and absence of variceal bleeding.
Setting: Tertiary academic referral center of the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
Patients: Patients with alcoholic cirrhosis were considered for operation after at least 1 proven episode of variceal hemorrhage. Patients with portal vein thrombosis were excluded; patients in Child class C underwent operation only for compelling indications. Of the 72 who underwent partial shunting, 38 were in Child class A, 27 were in class B, and 7 were in class C.
Interventions: Partial portacaval shunt (6-, 8- or 10-mm polytetrafluoroethylene H-graft with collateral ablation) and serial follow-up.
Main outcome measures: Study end points were death, recurrent variceal hemorrhage, and unavailability for follow-up. Other measures included graft patency and nonvariceal rebleeding.
Results: Cumulative probability of 7-year patency for grafts at risk was 95%. The 7-year probability for absence of variceal bleeding in patients at risk was 92%. In 65 patients in Child classes A and B, operative mortality was 7.7% and the cumulative probability of 7-year survival was 54%.
Conclusion: For variceal bleeding associated with alcoholic cirrhosis, the small-diameter polytetrafluoroethylene portacaval H-graft with collateral ablation affords durable patency and protection against variceal rebleeding.