While people with portal hypertension may benefit from a TIPS procedure, the surgery can lead to additional complications.
After the procedure, blood from the digestive organs still flows through the portal vein, but the new stent carries it past the liver and into the hepatic veins.
This diversion increases the risk that natural toxins, such as ammonia, may remain in the blood when it returns to the heart.
Ammonia can travel to the brain through the bloodstream, which may result in hepatic encephalopathy. Hepatic encephalopathy is a brain disorder that can cause confusion, personality changes, and memory loss.
According to a 2017 study involving 98 people with portal hypertension, about 36.7% of these participants developed hepatic encephalopathy after undergoing a TIPS procedure.
A TIPS procedure can also affect the heart and lungs. The sudden increase in blood flow may put excess stress on these vital organs. This complication is especially dangerous for people with congestive heart failure or high blood pressure.
Doctors may perform additional procedures if the stent becomes blocked or collapses.
Other risks associated with TIPS procedures include:
- bacterial infections
- damage to surrounding blood vessels
- internal bleeding
A person should always speak to a doctor if they are concerned about the possible risks of a TIPS procedure.
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