BACKGROUND & AIMS: The incidence of post-TIPS hepatic encephalopathy (HE) could be reduced by using stents with a small diameter. The aim of this study was to compare the incidence of HE and the clinical efficacy of TIPS created with 8- or 10-mm PTFE-covered stents.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Consecutive cirrhotics submitted to TIPS for variceal bleeding or refractory ascites were randomized to receive a 8- or 10-mm covered stent. As recommended by our Ethical Committee, the trial was stopped after the inclusion of 45 patients.
RESULTS: The two groups were comparable for age, sex, etiology, and psychometric performance. After TIPS, the portosystemic pressure gradient was significantly higher in the 8-mm stent group (8.9+/-2.7 versus 6.5+/-2.7mmHg; p=0.007). Consequently, the probability of remaining free of complications due to portal hypertension was significantly higher in the 10-mm than in the 8-mm stent group: 82.9% versus 41.9% at one year; log-rank test, p=0.002. In particular, the persistence of ascites with the need for repeated paracentesis was significantly more frequent in the patients treated with 8-mm stent diameter for refractory ascites (log-rank test, p=0.008). The probability of remaining free of HE was similar in both groups. Cumulative survival rate was similar in both groups.
CONCLUSIONS: The use of 8-mm diameter stents for TIPS leads to a significantly less efficient control of complications of portal hypertension. HE remains an unsolved major problem after TIPS.