Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt (TIPS) Periprocedural Care

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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Periprocedural Care

Preprocedural Planning

Planning for transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) creation includes the following:

  • Review preprocedural vascular ultrasound studies or computed tomography (CT) scans of the abdomen to confirm the patency of the portal vein and assess for anatomic limitations
  • Determine the Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) score; this helps predict TIPS mortality, which is higher with a MELD score of 18 or above [14]  (see the  MELD Score for End-Stage Liver Disease calculator); addition of sodium assessment to the MELD score may further enhance prediction of TIPS mortality [15]
  • Obtain informed consent
  • Ensure that the patient has no contrast allergy, has a platelet count higher than 50,000/μL, and has a relatively normal international normalized ratio (INR)
  • Consider broad-spectrum antibiotic prophylaxis


Equipment used for TIPS creation includes the following:

  • Good ultrasound machine with linear-array probe
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Chlorhexidine or povidone-iodine solution for skin disinfection
  • Heparinized saline (1000-2000 U heparin in 1000 mL of 0.9% NaCl)
  • Basic angiography set
  • Sheath, 5 French, and curved catheter
  • Guide wires - Terumo Glidewire (0.035 in.) and exchange-length Amplatz wire (0.035 in.) 
  • Pressure transducer
  • TIPS kit (Cook Medical, Bloomington, IN; see the first image below) - Sheath, 10 French, 40 cm; guide catheter, 51 cm, with metal stiffener; portal venous access needle, 60 cm
  • Medical CO 2 and its kit [16] (if available)
  • Angioplasty balloons, typically 8 mm × 40 mm
  • Covered stent [17] - Gore Viatorr (WL Gore, Flagstaff, AZ) or another brand, such as Wallgraft (Boston Scientific, Natick, MA) or BeGraft [18] (Bentley, Hechingen, Germany); the advantage of the Gore Viatorr is the design, which consists of a distal 2-cm-long unlined segment that is deployed in the portal vein and therefore gives better anchorage without obstructing the flow and allows for nutrient portal perfusion (see the second image below)
  • Bare stents may be used, if needed, to extend to the right atrium [19]
Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIP Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS). Typical equipment kit.
Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIP Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS). Artist impression of stent in situ.

There has been debate regarding the optimal stent diameter for TIPS. In a meta-analysis comparing 8-mm stents with 10-mm stents, Huang et found that 10-mm stents yielded a lower TIPS dysfunction rate; however, they also noted that in Asian studies, the rate of postoperative hepatic encephalopathy was lower with 8-mm stents than with 10-mm stents, suggesting that the former may be recommended for Asian patients. [20]


Patient Preparation


General anesthesia is usually required for pediatric patients and is preferred in many institutions for adults as well. Procedural sedation may be used, depending on local practices. Midazolam with fentanyl citrate is a reasonable combination for achieving procedural sedation. Local anesthesia is achieved with approximately 5 mL of lidocaine 1% at the jugular puncture site.


Position the patient supine, with the neck turned away from the side of vein puncture. Avoid pillows unless they are needed.


Monitoring & Follow-up

The high frequency of shunt stenosis warrants close surveillance with Doppler ultrasonography (US) or portography. Patients undergo a baseline Doppler US study within 24 hours of the procedure to document functional parameters, including the direction of portal vein flow and flow velocities throughout the shunt and within the hepatic vein. Although TIPS venography with direct portal and right atrial pressure measurements is the criterion standard for stent assessment, high sensitivity and specificity for shunt function has been reported with certain Doppler criteria, as follows:

  • Absent flow
  • Low peak shunt velocity (< 50 to 90 cm/s)
  • High peak shunt velocity (190 cm/s)
  • Low mean portal vein velocity (< 30 cm/s)
  • Return of antegrade flow in the intrahepatic portal veins
  • Significant change in shunt velocity (>50 cm/s) as compared with the immediate postprocedural result

In the acute phase, the stent can thrombose. To treat this, the stent can be lysed, or mechanical thrombectomy can be performed. If later in-stent stenosis occurs, perform angioplasty or insert another stent, as required.

Postprocedural follow-up for TIPS placement is important to ensure patency. Post-TIPS Doppler US may be performed at 24 hours, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months and annually thereafter.

A study by Young et al in patients who underwent TIPS placement for refractory ascites suggested that clinical surveillance for symptom relapse was as sensitive as US in this setting and significantly more specific. [21]

Contrast-enhanced US (CEUS) at a high mechanical index has been suggested as an alternative for follow-up after TIPS placement to detect postprocedural abnormalities. [22]