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Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS)

 

Definition

Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) is a procedure to create new connections between two blood vessels in your liver. You may need this procedure if you have very bad liver problems.

Alternative Names

TIPS

Description

This is not surgery. It is done by a radiologist using x-ray. A radiologist is a doctor who uses imaging techniques to diagnose and treat diseases.

You will probably receive local anesthesia and medicine to relax you. This will make you pain free and sleepy, or you may have general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free).

Your radiologist will insert a catheter (a flexible tube) through your skin into a vein in your neck.

  • On the end of the catheter is a balloon and a metal mesh stent (tube).
  • Using x-ray equipment, the surgeon will guide the catheter into a vein in your liver.
  • The balloon will be blown up to place the stent. You may feel a little pain when this happens.
  • Your radiologist will use the stent to connect your portal vein to one of your hepatic veins.

This new pathway will allow blood to flow better. It will ease pressure on the veins of your stomach, esophagus, intestines, and liver.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Normally, blood coming from your esophagus, stomach, and intestines first flows through the liver. When your liver has a lot of damage, this blood cannot flow through it very easily. This is called portal hypertension (increased pressure and backup at the portal vein).

When this problem happens, you may have:

  • Bleeding from veins of the stomach, esophagus, or intestines (variceal bleeding)
  • Buildup of fluid in the belly (ascites)
  • Buildup of fluid in the chest (hydrothorax)
  • Clotting in a vein that carries blood from the liver to the heart (Budd-Chiari syndrome)

This procedure allows your blood to flow better in your liver, stomach, esophagus, and intestines, and then back to your heart.

Risks

Potential risks for this procedure are:

  • Infection, bruising, or bleeding
  • Reactions to medicines
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Fever
  • Stiffness, bruising, or soreness in the neck

Rare risks are:

  • Blockage in the stent
  • Infection of the stent
  • Bleeding in the belly
  • Cutting of the blood vessels of the liver
  • Heart problems
Before the Procedure

Your doctor may ask you to have these tests:

Always tell your doctor or nurse:

  • If you are or could be pregnant
  • Any drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription

On the day of your surgery:

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery.
  • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of surgery. Take these drugs with a small sip of water.
  • Take a shower the night before or the morning of surgery.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
After the Procedure

After the procedure, you will recover in your hospital room. You will be monitored for bleeding. You will have to keep your head raised.

You will be able to go home when you feel better. This may be the day after surgery.

Many people get back to their everyday activities in 7 to 10 days.

Your doctor will probably do ultrasounds after surgery to make sure the stent is working correctly.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Your radiologist can tell you right away how well the procedure worked. Most patients recover well.

References

Rikkers LF. Surgical complications of cirrhosis and portal hypertension. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 53.


Review Date: 1/30/2009
Reviewed By: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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