A trans-jugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) is a tract created within the liver using x-ray guidance to connect two veins within the liver. The shunt is kept open by the placement of a small, tubular metal device commonly called a stent.
During a TIPS procedure, interventional radiologists use image guidance to make a tunnel through the liver to connect the portal vein (the vein that carries blood from the digestive organs to the liver) to one of the hepatic veins (three veins that carry blood away from the liver back to the heart). A stent is then placed in this tunnel to keep the pathway open.
Patients who typically need a TIPS have portal hypertension, meaning they have increased pressure in the portal vein system. This pressure build-up can cause blood to flow backward from the liver into the veins of the spleen, stomach, lower oesophagus, and intestines, causing enlarged vessels, bleeding and the accumulation of fluid in the chest or abdomen.This condition is most commonly seen in adults, often as a result of chronic liver problems leading to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).