August 1988

Should Portosystemic Shunt Be Reconsidered in the Treatment of Intractable Ascites in Cirrhosis?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Research on Surgery of the Liver of Portal Hypertension, University of Paris-Sud, Hôpital Paul Brousse, Villejuif, France.

Arch Surg. 1988;123(8):987-991. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1988.01400320073015

• Fifty-seven cirrhotic patients with intractable ascites had a portosystemic shunt. In 35 patients, a peritoneovenous shunt had previously failed. Forty-six patients were in Pugh's class B and 11 were in class C. There were three operative deaths (5.3%). Fifty-three (98.2%) of the 54 survivors were cleared of ascites. In one patient, ascites persisted because of postshunt heart failure that resulted in a marked increase of caval pressure. Twenty-seven patients (50%) had late encephalopathy, which was severe and disabling in 12 (22%). One- and three-year survival rates were 72% and 36%, respectively. These results suggest that although portosystemic shunts are remarkably effective in dealing with ascites, the high rate of postoperative encephalopathy is a strong argument against their routine use in the management of intractable ascites in cirrhosis.

(Arch Surg 1988;123:987-991)