Mesocaval shunts for the control of bleeding esophageal varices

John L. Cameron, George D. Zuidema, Gardner W. Smith, Donald P. Harrington, Willis C. Maddrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Results in 44 patients with esophageal bleeding who underwent a mesocaval shunt utilizing a prosthetic graft are presented. Portal hypertension was secondary to alcoholic cirrhosis in 30 patients, to chronic active hepatitis in eight, to primary biliary cirrhosis in four, to cirrhosis secondary to inflammatory bowel disease in one, and to portal vein thrombosis following splenectomy in one. Thirty-six shunts were performed during the emergent or semiemergent time period, and only eight were performed electively. Sixteen of the patients were Child's class A, 16 were class B, and 12 were class C. There were no hospital deaths in the emergency shunt group (of eight patients); there was a 12% mortality rate for patients undergoing semiemergency shunts (two of 17 patients) and a 42% mortality rate for patients who had emergency shunts (eight of 19 patients). Death was related more closely to hepatic reserve, however, than to timing of the shunt. Among the 32 class A and class B patients, there were only three deaths in hospital (9%), as compared with seven deaths among the 12 class C patients (58%). Portal-systemic encephalopathy was high in the period immediately after operation (13 of 34 patients, 38%), but it was a chronic problem following discharge from the hospital in only three of 34 patients (9%). The mesocaval shunt is a safe, effective procedure for the control of variceal bleeding in class A and class B patients in any time period, but it carries a high operative mortality risk in the class C patient when it is performed as an emergency operation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-262
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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