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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(3):CD004889.

TIPS versus paracentesis for cirrhotic patients with refractory ascites.

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Medicine and Surgery, University of California Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles, California, USA.



Ten per cent of cirrhotic patients develop refractory ascites, which carries substantial morbidity and has a one-year survival of less than 50 per cent. Patients with refractory ascites may benefit from transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic stent-shunts (TIPS).


To compare TIPS versus paracentesis standard treatment in patients with refractory ascites due to cirrhosis with regard to overall short- and long-term mortality, treatment efficacy, and complications.


We searched The Cochrane Hepato-Biliary Group Controlled Trials Register (July 2003), The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials on The Cochrane Library (Issue 1, 2003), MEDLINE (1966 to July 2003), EMBASE (1980 to July 2003), and CINAHL (1982 to July 2003). We supplemented the searches with reading through scientific citations, review of citations in relevant primary articles, and hand-searched abstracts from national meetings.


We included randomised clinical trials comparing TIPS and paracentesis with or without volume expanders for cirrhotic patients with refractory ascites.


We evaluated the methodological quality of the randomised clinical trials by the generation of the allocation section, allocation concealment, and follow-up. Two independent observers extracted data from each trial. We contacted trial authors for additional information. Dichotomous outcomes were reported as odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI).


Four randomised clinical trials, including 264 patients, met the inclusion criteria. Methodological quality was moderate. Thirty-day mortality (OR 1.00, 95% CI 0.10 to 10.06, P = 1.0) and 24-month mortality (OR 1.17, 95% CI 0.52 to 2.66, P = 0.70) did not differ significantly between TIPS and paracentesis treatment. TIPS significantly reduced ascites re-accumulation at three months (OR 0.07, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.18, P < 0.00001) and at 12 months follow-up (OR 0.14, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.28, P < 0.00001). Hepatic encephalopathy occurred significantly more often in the TIPS group (OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.22 to 3.66, P = 0.008). Gastrointestinal bleeding (OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.36 to 1.84, P = 0.63), acute renal failure (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.15 to 2.72, P = 0.55), septicemia/infection (OR 1.05, 95% CI 0.22 to 4.94, P = 0.96), and disseminated intravascular coagulation (OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.26 to 1.84, P = 0.63) did not differ significantly between groups.


TIPS removed ascites more effectively than paracentesis. After 12 months, the beneficial effects of TIPS on ascites was still present. Mortality, gastrointestinal bleeding, septicemia/infection, acute renal failure, and disseminated intravascular coagulation did not differ significantly between the two groups. Hepatic encephalopathy occurred significantly more often in the TIPS group.

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