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The Role of Portosystemic Shunts for Variceal Bleeding in the Liver Transplantation Era

B. van Hoek, MD; K. D. Lindor, MD; P. A. Murtaugh, PhD; J. M. Harrison, MS; R. A. F. Krom, MD; R. H. Wiesner, MD; D. M. Nagorney, MD
Arch Surg. 1994;129(7):683-688. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1994.01420310013002.
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Objective:  To review our experience with portosystemic shunts during the era of liver transplantation at the Mayo Clinic to provide insight into the selection of patients for these procedures.

Design:  We reviewed the charts of a cohort of 57 patients who underwent portosystemic shunting between 1985 and 1990 for the management of variceal bleeding. A followup survey by letter and telephone was also conducted.

Setting:  The Mayo Clinic, a tertiary referral center.

Patients:  These patients were not considered transplantation candidates at the time of the shunt because of active alcoholism, extensive portal vein thrombosis, coexistent myelodysplastic syndromes, or malignant neoplasms.

Intervention:  Portosystemic shunts; the exact type was at the surgeon's discretion.

Outcome:  Survival after shunt surgery among patients with various liver diseases.

Results:  Twenty-two patients died during follow-up after being shunted for bleeding, and one of the shunted patients subsequently required liver transplantation. Comparison of Kaplan-Meier survival curves between various groups of patients indicated that patients who were actively alcoholic had a poorer chance of survival (P<.003) than did those who were abstinent. Patients with portal vein obstruction or chronic cholestatic liver disease appeared to do better after shunt surgery than did patients with other causes of portal hypertension. Other factors such as age, Child-Pugh score, or presence of malignant neoplasms did not reliably predict outcome from portosystemic shunts.

Conclusions:  In well-selected patients who may not be deemed candidates for liver transplantation, portacaval shunts can be effectively employed to prevent bleeding from esophageal varices that are resistant to obliteration by sclerotherapy.(Arch Surg. 1994;129:683-688)


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