University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, Birmingham, UK; NIHR Biomedical Research Unit and Centre for Liver Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.
BACKGROUND: Variceal bleeding in cirrhosis represents a lethal complication of their disease. In the last 20 years, management of AVH has improved greatly with reduction in mortality from 43% in 1980 to 15% in 2000. AIM: Advances in endoscopic therapy, pharmacologic agents including vasoconstrictor therapy and antibiotics have played a large part in improving outcomes, but the role of Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Stent-Shunt (TIPSS) remains controversial, which this review will cover. METHODS: MEDLINE search for the following terms was performed to July 2011: variceal hemorrhage, portal hypertension, cirrhosis, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent-shunt (TIPSS), PTFE, covered stents. Where possible randomized controlled studies were used for this review, although uncontrolled studies were also included if they made a significant contribution to the literature. RESULTS: Literature used for the present study was selected from a total of 252 publications and abstracts from meetings. RESULTS: TIPSS has been used as a salvage therapy after initial medical and endoscopic therapy for the bleed given its high success rate in arresting uncontrolled variceal bleeding. The recent trial by Garcia- Pagan et al. suggested beneficial effects of an earlier covered TIPSS in those at high risk of treatment failure (Childs C and those who are Childs B with active bleeding). CONCLUSIONS: TIPSS can reduce failure to control bleeding and rebleeding as well as mortality with no increase in the risk of hepatic encephalopathy.This needs to be confirmed in further trials. However, it is clear that prevention of rebleeding is the key to improved outcomes following a variceal bleed.