Variceal bleeding remains a common cause of morbidity for children with both intrahepatic and extrahepatic portal hypertension. Occasionally, patients referred for liver transplant evaluation have significant variceal bleeding, despite adequate synthetic liver function. During a 7-year period, 322 children were referred for liver transplant evaluation. Six underwent distal splenorenal shunt surgery after evaluation. There were four boys and two girls. The average age was 11 ± 4 years, and the average weight was 39 ± 15 kg. The etiology of variceal bleeding was intrahepatic portal hypertension in five (1 biliary atresia, 2 chronic hepatitis, 2 congenital hepatic fibrosis) and extrahepatic portal vein thrombosis in one. Two patients had no previous attempts at sclerotherapy (one because of an abnormality in platelet function, the other because of extensive gastric varices), and four had multiple previous sclerotherapy treatments. No patient had preoperative encephalopathy. Three cases were Child's class A, and three were Child's class B. Preoperative evaluation of the portasystemic system was performed with magnetic resonance (MR) imaging or splenoportography. All patients underwent a distal splenorenal shunt procedure, four of whom also had splenopancreatic disconnection. One patient required 100 mL of blood replacement, and five required no blood. The average length of hospital stay was 9.8 ± 2.2 days. Postoperative complications were minimal. All patients are alive, without recurrent gastrointestinal bleeding or encephalopathy, and they have patent shunts, which was confirmed by MR or Doppler ultrasound at a mean of 25 ± 20 months after shunt surgery. Children who have significant cirrhosis, portal hypertension, recurrent variceal bleeding refractory to sclerotherapy, and adequate synthetic function can be effectively treated with a distal splenorenal shunt. While the choice between liver transplantation of shunting may be difficult, use of the distal splenorenal shunt does not preclude future liver transplantation for such children.
- Splenorenal shunt, distal
- liver transplant
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health