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Ann Surg. 2001 Apr;233(4):522-7.

Budd-Chiari syndrome: current management options.

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  • 1Department of Transplant Surgery, Tulane University Medical Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.



To assess the outcomes of current treatment strategies for Budd-Chiari syndrome.


Budd-Chiari syndrome, occlusion or obstruction of hepatic venous outflow, is a disease traditionally managed by portal or mesenteric-systemic shunting. The development of other treatment options, such as catheter-directed thrombolysis, transjugular portosystemic shunting (TIPS), and liver transplantation, has expanded the therapeutic algorithm.


The authors reviewed the medical records of all patients diagnosed with Budd-Chiari syndrome at the Johns Hopkins Hospital during the past 20 years.


A total of 54 patients were identified: 13 (24%) male patients and 41 (76%) female patients, ranging in age from 2 to 76 years (median 33 years). Twenty-one (39%) had polycythemia vera, 3 (5.6%) used estrogens, 11 (20%) had a myeloproliferative or coagulation disorder, and in 7 (13%) the cause remained unknown. Forty-three patients were treated with surgical shunting, 24 mesocaval and 19 mesoatrial. Actuarial survival rates at 1, 3, and 5 years after shunting were 83%, 78%, and 75%, respectively. Of 33 patients surviving more than 4 years, 28 (85%) had relief of clinical symptoms. Five patients required shunt revision and eight had radiologic procedures to maintain shunt patency. Primary and secondary shunt patency rates were 46% and 69% respectively for mesoatrial shunts and 70% and 85% respectively for mesocaval shunts. Clot lysis was successful as primary treatment in seven patients. TIPS was performed in three patients, one after a failed mesocaval shunt. During an average of 4 years of follow-up, these patients required multiple procedures to maintain TIPS patency. Six patients underwent liver transplantation. Of these, three had previous shunt procedures. Five of the transplant recipients are alive with follow-up of 2 to 9 years (median 6).


Both shunting and transplantation can result in a 5-year survival rate of at least 75%, and other treatment modalities may be appropriate for highly selected patients. Optimal management requires that treatment be directed by the predominant clinical symptom (liver failure or portal hypertension) and anatomical considerations and be tempered by careful assessment of surgical risk.

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