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J Hepatol. 1996 Feb;24(2):169-76.

Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent-shunt (TIPSS) occlusion and the role of biliary venous fistulae.

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  • 1Centre for Liver and Digestive Disorders, Department of Medicine, Edinburgh, UK.



The aim of this study was to assess the pathology and pathogenic mechanisms involved in the occlusion of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent-shunts.


Thirty-four patients with transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent-shunt who had at least two portographic assessments of shunt function were the subjects of this study. The contents of any shunt demonstrating > 70% stenosis were biopsied before balloon dilatation. Further assessment was made of 10 livers obtained at either post mortem (8) or at liver transplantation (2). Cholangiography was performed in these explanted livers, which were then perfused and fixed with formaldehyde. The shunts were dissected out, sectioned, opened and the contents and the surrounding liver examined macroscopically, histopathologically and immunohistochemically.


Fourteen patients with TIPSS developed shunt stenosis. In eight patients the stenosis was greater than 70% and significant re-stenosis occurred in all at repeat portography. Three of these patients who were managed by insertion of new shunts showed no further shunt-related problems, whereas the five who were treated solely by dilatation developed further re-stenosis. Organising thrombus was found in all eight patients and bile was incorporated in the thrombus in four. Biliary epithelium was found in two. Four of the ten explanted livers showed evidence of shunt stenosis, of which three were severe and one was mild (< 70%). The occluding material in patients with severe stenosis was composed of organising thrombus containing bile and a granulomatous inflammatory response. This was associated with a transected bile duct, and the degree of stenosis was related closely to the size of the bile duct transected. The shunts free of bile showed no stenosis.


The results of this study suggest that transection of a major bile duct and bile leak play an important role in the stenosis and occlusion of the intraparenchymal portion of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent-shunt. This has important implications for patient management and stent design.

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