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Semin Intervent Radiol. 2012 Jun;29(2):118-28. doi: 10.1055/s-0032-1312573.

Balloon-occluded retrograde transvenous obliteration of gastric varices: concept, basic techniques, and outcomes.

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1
Division of Vascular Interventional Radiology, Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Abstract

Patients with gastric variceal bleeding require a multidisciplinary team approach including hepatologists, endoscopists, diagnostic radiologists, and interventional radiologists. Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy is the first-line diagnostic and management tool for bleeding gastric varices, as it is in all upper gastrointestinal bleeding scenarios. In the United States when endoscopy fails to control gastric variceal bleeding, a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) traditionally is performed along the classic teachings of decompressing the portal circulation. However, TIPS has not shown the same effectiveness in controlling gastric variceal bleeding that it has with esophageal variceal bleeding. For the past 2 decades, the balloon-occluded retrograde transvenous obliteration (BRTO) procedure has become common practice in Asia for the management of gastric varices. BRTO is gaining popularity in the United States. It has been shown to be effective in controlling gastric variceal bleeding with low rebleed rates. BRTO has many advantages over TIPS in that it is less invasive and can be performed on patients with poor hepatic reserve and those with encephalopathy (and may even improve both). However, its by-product is occlusion of a spontaneous hepatofugal (TIPS equivalent) shunt, and thus it is contradictory to the traditional American doctrine of portal decompression. Indeed, BRTO causes an increase in portal hypertension, with potential aggravation of esophageal varices and ascites. This article discusses the concept, technique, and outcomes of BRTO within the broader management of gastric varices.

KEYWORDS:

BRTO; TIPS; gastric; portal hypertension; transvenous obliteration; varices

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