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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Cirrhosis: Surgical Shunts for Portal Hypertension
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Shunt surgeries are designed to redirect the flow of blood or belly fluid through other areas of the body. Types of shunts used include:
These shunts may reduce fluid buildup in the belly (ascites). They divert the fluid into normal blood circulation.
These shunts may lower blood pressure in the vein that carries blood to the liver (portal vein). They do this by diverting the flow of blood from the portal vein to the large vein that returns blood to the heart (vena cava).
Shunts are rarely used because of the complications they may cause. They are done only in medical centers where the surgeon is experienced in doing the procedures.
Shunt surgery may be used for people who:
Complications of shunt surgery may include changes in mental function (encephalopathy), such as confusion, memory loss, and irritability. People who have large-diameter portacaval shunts have a 30% to 40% rate of encephalopathy.footnote 1
Shah VH, Kamath PS (2010). Portal hypertension and gastrointestinal bleeding. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1489–1516. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Current as of:
October 28, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineW. Thomas London MD - Hepatology
Current as of: October 28, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & W. Thomas London MD - Hepatology
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