Early TIPS versus endoscopic therapy for secondary prophylaxis after management of acute esophageal variceal bleeding in cirrhotic patients: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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Background and aims:

American College of Gastroenterology and American Association for the Study of Liver Disease guidelines recommend endoscopic and pharmacologic treatment for esophageal variceal bleed. Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) placement is reserved for cases of therapeutic failure. Several studies have suggested improved prevention of rebleeding and improved survival without excess hepatic encephalopathy in patients who receive TIPS within the first 5 days after bleeding (early TIPS). In this meta-analysis, we evaluated the safety and efficacy of early TIPS versus endoscopic therapy for secondary prophylaxis after acute esophageal variceal bleeding in cirrhotic patients.


Pubmed, Medline, Embase, ClinicalTrials.gov, and ISI Web of Science were searched for randomized controlled trials that compared early TIPS to endoscopic therapy. The primary outcome was mortality at 1 year; secondary outcomes were rebleeding and hepatic encephalopathy at 1 year.


Nine randomized controlled trials involving 608 cirrhotic patients were identified. Early TIPS was associated with a significant risk reduction in 1-year mortality (RR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.49–0.96; P = 0.03) and 1-year incidence of variceal rebleeding (RR, 0.28; 95% CI, 0.20–0.40; P < 0.001) without significant heterogeneity among studies (I2 = 30% and 47%, respectively). No significant difference in the incidence of hepatic encephalopathy at 1 year was observed (RR, 1.36; 95% CI, 0.72–2.56; P = 0.34); however, there was significant heterogeneity among studies (I2 = 68%).


TIPS placed within 5 days after a major esophageal variceal hemorrhage is superior to endoscopic treatment in reducing subsequent bleeding. Early TIPS placement is also associated with superior 1-year survival without significantly increasing the incidence of hepatic encephalopathy.

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