• We studied the clinical course of 35 patients with refractory ascites who underwent 51 peritoneovenous shunts. Nine of them had hepatorenal syndrome (HRS). Operative complications included shunt malfunction, shunt infection, ascitic leak, fluid overload, and disseminated intravascular coagulation. Two of the patients without HRS died postoperatively. The survival rate in this group was 67% at one year and 43% at two years. Ascites was completely controlled in 83% of the survivors at two months and 50% at two years. Neither survival nor shunt patency were predictable. The shunt reversed HRS in three patients, but failed to do so in the other six. Late complications included shunt malfunction and infection. During the first two years of follow-up, five patients bled from esophageal varices. Liver failure was the sole cause of late death. Peritoneovenous shunt should be reserved for patients with truly refractory ascites, for whom it provides excellent palliation.
(Arch Surg 1982;117:631-635)