Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt (TIPS)

Updated: Jan 27, 2022
  • Author: Sapna Puppala, MBBS, MRCS, MRCS(Edin), FRCS(Edin), FRCR, CBCCT, EBIR; Chief Editor: Justin A Siegal, MD  more...
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Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) creation is the percutaneous formation of a tract between the hepatic vein and the intrahepatic segment of the portal vein in order to reduce the portal venous pressure. The blood is shunted away from the liver parenchymal sinusoids, thus reducing the portal pressure. [1, 2, 3] TIPS, therefore, represents a first-line treatment for complications of portal hypertension, typically in patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis.



Accepted indications for TIPS include the following:

  • Uncontrolled variceal hemorrhage from esophageal, gastric, [4] and intestinal varices that do not respond to endoscopic and medical management [5]
  • Refractory ascites
  • Hepatic pleural effusion (hydrothorax)

Controversial indications for TIPS include the following:



Absolute contraindications for TIPS include the following:

Relative contraindications for TIPS include the following:

  • Portal and hepatic vein thrombosis
  • Hepatopulmonary syndrome
  • Active infection
  • Tumor within the expected path of the shunt


The technical success of TIPS placement is related to the experience and skill of the interventional radiologist. Data from three large centers (University of California, San Francisco; University of Pennsylvania; and the Freiberg group) demonstrated technical success rates higher than 90%.

Successful TIPS placement results in a portosystemic gradient of less than 12 mm Hg and immediate control of variceal-related bleeding. A target portosystemic gradient of 12 mm Hg is used; varices tend not to bleed when the gradient is less than 12 mm Hg. When technical failure occurs, it is usually due to an anatomic situation that prevents acceptable portal venous puncture. Significant reduction in ascites usually occurs within 1 month of the procedure, and this is estimated to occur in 50-90% of cases. [8, 9, 10, 11]

Late stenosis and occlusion are usually related to pseudointimal hyperplasia within the stent or, more commonly, intimal hyperplasia within the hepatic vein. In most cases, the stenotic stent can be crossed with a guide wire and recanalized with balloon dilation (see the image below) or repeat stent placement to improve long-term patency rates. 

Balloon angioplasty used to treat hyperplasia. Balloon angioplasty used to treat hyperplasia.

Primary patency after TIPS placement has been reported to be 66% after 1 year and 42% after 2 years. Primary-assisted patency rates at 1 and 2 years are reported to be 83% and 79%, respectively, and secondary patency rates at 1 and 2 years are reported to be 96% and 90%. [9]

Reported figures for 30-day mortality vary among centers, and nearly all centers report few or no deaths directly related to the procedure itself. Early mortality has been shown to be related to the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score. Patients with severe systemic disease with an APACHE II score higher than 20 have a greater risk for early mortality, compared with others.

Patients with active bleeding during the procedure also have increased early mortality. The 30-day mortality is in the range of 3-30%; the variation within this range is related to the preprocedural Child classification and to whether the procedure was performed on an emergency basis or an elective basis. [12] In 1995, LaBerge et al reported that cumulative survival rates in patients with Child grades of A, B, and C were 75%, 68%, and 49%, respectively, at 1 year and 75%, 55%, and 43%, respectively, at 2 years.

In a retrospective study that evaluated rebleeding rate, patency, mortality, and transplant-free survival in 286 cirrhotic patients receiving TIPS implantation for variceal bleeding (119 bare-metal stents and 167 polytetrafluoroethylene [PTFE]-covered stents) at a median follow-up of 821 days, Bucsics et al found that the covered stents prevented variceal rebleeding more effectively than the bare-metal stents did, by virtue of their superior patency. [13] They recommended that only covered stents should be implemented for bleeding prophylaxis when TIPS is indicated.