Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt

TIPS (transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt) is a medical procedure that helps correct blood flow problems in the liver, which is a common outcome of liver disease.

The procedure is done without surgery. It is performed in the radiology department by a specially trained doctor known as an interventional radiologist.

Why would a person need TIPS?

TIPS can often help a condition called portal hypertension, which occurs when the normal flow of blood through the blood vessels in the liver is slowed or blocked by scarring or other damage. The scarring or damage is caused by liver diseases, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.

Several things can happen when the blood vessels are blocked. Sometimes bleeding occurs when the blood tries to find unblocked pathways. In other instances, fluid accumulates in the area around the stomach (ascites). Sometimes fluid accumulates in the chest (pleural fluid).

What happens during TIPS?

The interventional radiologist will make a tunnel in the liver through which the blocked blood can flow. After the tunnel is made, the doctor will insert a small metal tube (called a shunt or stent) into the tunnel to make sure the tunnel stays open. The interventional radiologist will use X-ray pictures and X-ray dye (also called contrast) to guide the procedure.

Reprinted with permission of the Society of Interventional Radiology (c) 2004, 2008; All rights reserved.

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