Benefits vs. Risks of a TIPS Procedure

TIPS Benefits

  • A TIPS is designed to produce the same physiological results as a surgical shunt or bypass, without the risks that accompany open surgery.
  • TIPS is a minimally invasive procedure that typically has a shorter recovery time than surgery.
  • Your TIPS should have less of an effect than open surgical bypass on future liver transplantation surgery, because the abdomen has not been entered.
  • The TIPS is contained entirely inside the diseased liver, and is removed with it during a transplant operation.
  • Studies have shown that this procedure is successful in reducing variceal bleeding in more than 90 percent of patients.
  • No surgical incision is needed—only a small nick in the skin that does not have to be stitched closed.

TIPS Risks

Any procedure where the skin is penetrated carries a risk of infection. The chance of infection requiring antibiotic treatment appears to be less than one in 1,000.

There is a very slight risk of an allergic reaction to the contrast material used for venograms. Also, kidney failure (temporary or permanent) due to contrast material use is a concern, particularly in patients with poor kidney function.

Any procedure that involves placement of a catheter inside a blood vessel carries certain risks. These risks include damage to the blood vessel, bruising or bleeding at the puncture site, and infection.

Other possible complications of the procedure include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle stiffness in the neck
  • Bruising on the neck at the point of catheter insertion
  • delayed stenosis, or narrowing within the stent, which is less common with the current generation of GORE-TEX-lined stents
  • Serious complications, reported in fewer than five percent of cases, may include:
  • Occlusion, or complete blockage, of the stent and rapid recurrence of symptoms
  • infection of the stent or fabric lining
  • Abdominal bleeding that might require a transfusion
  • Laceration of the hepatic artery, which may result in severe liver injury or bleeding that could require a transfusion or urgent intervention
  • Heart arrhythmias or congestive heart failure
  • Radiation injury to the skin is a rare complication (it may happen in complex and lengthy procedures requiring extended fluoroscopy use)
  • Death (rare)