Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt (TIPS)

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Patients with cirrhosis can develop major complications such as ascites and variceal bleeding, related to portal hypertension.

A transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) can be an effective means to decrease portal hypertension, by shunting some of the blood flow from the portal venous system into the hepatic venous system, via a stent.

Placement of a TIPS is a highly specialized interventional procedure, and should only be considered after consultation with a liver specialist.

Step 1:

Evaluate the indication for TIPS


Common Indications:

  • Bleeding related to portal hypertension
  • Refractory ascites/hydrothorax

Step 2: 

Consider potential contraindications and risk for complications


Potential contraindications:

  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Pulmonary Hypertension 
  • Tricuspid regurgitation
  • Active infection
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma (location dependant)
  • Thrombocytopenia (Plt <20,000)
  • Hepatic/Portal vein obstruction
  • Biliary Obstruction
  • Multiple Hepatic Cysts


Risk Factors Associated with Post-TIPS Complications:

ComplicationRisk Factor
Liver FailureAdvanced Liver Disease (MELD >18)
Cardiovascular disease
EncephalopathyPrior Encephalopathy
Wider diameter TIPS
Cardiac DecompensationAortic stenosis
Diastolic dysfunction
Prolonged QTc interval
Elevated BNP
MortalityChild Pugh C
Urgent indication (variceal bleed)
Bilirubin >50 umol/L
Pre-insertion consult by an interventional radiologist should be considered in these circumstances

Step 3: 

Perform pre-TIPS investigations

  1. Echocardiogram
  2. Liver Ultrasound Doppler: Evaluate liver vasculature, rule out hepatocellular carcinoma. In most cases CT may be required pre-TIPS insertion.
  3. Labs: TBili, INR, Cr, CBC, BNP

Step 4:

Provide pre-placement patient counselling

  • Patients will require short post-procedure hospital admission
  • Risk of hepatic encephalopathy (30-45%). Treat using standard hepatic encephalopathy therapy. For patients who do not respond to standard therapy – consideration should be given to narrowing or blocking the TIPS. This decision will be based on the severity of symptoms and the potential impact on the patient’s quality of life
  • It can take weeks or months for symptoms like ascites to resolve so patients may require alternate therapy (such paracentesis for ascites) in the initial period post-TIPS
  • Liver failure is rare but can occur, particularly if there is advanced liver dysfunction pre-procedure.
  • Immediate procedural complications (vascular injury, pneumothorax, hepatic injury) are discussed in detail by diagnostic imaging.

Step 5:

Info for liver specialists to arrange the TIPS procedure

  1. Send referral to interventional radiology for “TIPS insertion”
  2. Provide patient instructions regarding admission and pre procedure labs
  3. Ensure admission is coordinated, including notification of admitting physician and completion of admission orders.

Step 6:

Post-procedure follow-up


Routine monitoring:

Labs Monitor for worsening liver & renal function, electrolyte abnormalities, hemolytic anemiaDay 1, Week 4, 8 & 12, then based on patient clinical status
Symptom assessment
Common complication post TIPSDay 1, Week 4, 8 & 12, then based on patient clinical status.
•Ascites/hydrothoraxMonitor response to TIPS
Evaluate potential to taper off diuretics as TIPS improves volume management
•Edema, shortness of breathMonitor for cardiac decompensation
•Blood pressure and heart rateEvaluate need to reduce beta blocker used for variceal bleed prophylaxis
•GI bleedingMonitor response to TIPS
Ultrasound DopplerDetect TIPS stenosisMonth 3, 6, and then every 6 months along with routine screening ultrasound performed for hepatocellular carcinoma screening

Downloadable content:

You can download these to print or view offline:

Admission Orders


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