Selective Variceal Decompression: Current Status

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Since its introduction into clinical practice in 1967, selective variceal decompression by means of a distal splenorenal shunt (DSRS) has become one of the more commonly performed portal-systemic shunting procedures in the treatment of variceal hemorrhage throughout the world. In addition to selective decompression of gastroesophageal varices, the DSRS provides the advantages of preservation of portal perfusion of the liver and maintenance of intestinal venous hypertension. Many large, uncontrolled series and the majority of controlled randomized studies have demonstrated a lower incidence of encephalopathy after the DSRS than after nonselective shunt procedures. A secondary advantage of the DSRS is that the hepatic hilum is avoided, thus making subsequent liver transplantation a less formidable procedure. None of the studies have shown an advantage to this shunt with respect to longterm survival in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis. However, some of the large, uncontrolled series have shown that survival is significantly improved in patients with non-alcoholic cirrhosis compared to nonselective shunt procedures in the same population. Controlled trials comparing the DSRS to endoscopic sclerotherapy have shown that chronic endoscopic variceal sclerosis is an appropriate initial therapy for most patients as long as shunt surgery is readily available if sclerotherapy fails.




Jin, G., Rikkers, L. F., & Rikkers, L. F. (1991). Selective Variceal Decompression: Current Status. HPB Surgery, 5(1), 1–15.

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