Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt (TIPS)
When the liver encounters any of the diseases that cause cirrhosis, scar tissue can form and interrupt normal blood flow through the liver, compromising or disabling the liver’s ability to clean the blood of toxins.
In addition, with cirrhosis, there is progressive resistance of blood flow through the liver. Increased resistance of blood flow causes increased pressure on the veins from the bowels to the liver, known as portal hypertension. Portal hypertension results in venous blood backing up into the bowel wall veins and spleen. The enlarged veins (varices) — especially in the esophagus and stomach — can become so large and fragile that they can perforate and cause significant bleeding into the bowels.
Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt, or TIPS, is an effective life-saving treatment to help bypass the liver. This relieves the pressure off of the varices. TIPS is a minimally invasive procedure in which a shunt is inserted to create a new passage to assist blood flow through the liver. The blood is diverted from the bowels to the right side of the heart. As a result, the blood is no longer filtered through the liver. In patients with cirrhosis, TIPS can also be utilized for recurrent ascites.