Poor Outcome from Peritoneovenous Shunts for Refractory Ascites

Scholz, David G.; Nagorney, David M.; Lindor, Keith D.
May 1989
American Journal of Gastroenterology;May1989, Vol. 84 Issue 5, p540
Academic Journal
We reviewed in retrospect the records of all patients at our institution in whom peritoneovenous shunts were placed to manage refractory ascites due to chronic liver disease from 1977 through 1986. There was a wide spectrum of underlying liver disease in these 23 patients; most frequent was alcoholic cirrhosis. Five were in modified Child's class A, 14 were in class B, and four were in class C. Fourteen of 23 patients had some complication associated with peritoneovenous shunt placement; clinical consumptive coagulopathy, infection, and gastrointestinal hemorrhage while hospitalized were most frequent. Fifteen of 23 died, 12 while hospitalized or within 1 month of hospitalization. Death in eight patients appeared to be related to shunt placement and was due to sepsis in five, hepatorenal syndrome with an obstructed shunt in one, consumptive coagulopathy in one, and pulmonary edema in one. All modified Child's class C patients, six of seven patients with clinical consumptive coagulopathy, and all patients with a preshunt total bilirubin greater than 3.7 mg/dl died while hospitalized or within 1 month of hospitalization. This review supports studies showing that placement of peritoneovenous shunts for refractory ascites has a high morbidity and mortality in patients with advanced liver disease, and does not support their use in the management of refractory ascites.


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