Ongoing Research Funded by DHF

Impact of an artificial liver shunt procedure for the treatment of high pressure in the vein that carries blood from the digestive organs to the liver on the function of the heart

2020  | Disease: Liver/HepatologyLiver /Hepatology

Principal Researcher: Jane E. Wilcox, MD, MSc

Principal Investigator: Lisa B. VanWagner, MD

The portal vein carries blood from digestive organs to the liver. Portal hypertension occurs when pressure increases within this vein due to blockage in blood flow through the liver. Cirrhosis, or scarring, of the liver is the most common cause.  This condition often results in fluid build-up in the abdomen and bleeding from veins in the esophagus that can impair quality of life and even lead to death due to intestinal bleeding or infection. An artificial shunt procedure known as TIPS (transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt) helps reduce portal hypertension. It works by connecting two veins: the portal vein that carries blood from the digestive organs to the liver and the hepatic vein that carries blood from the liver to the right part of the heart. While the lifesaving procedure may cause heart failure in some patients because of increased blood flow directly to the heart, others experience improvement in heart function. However, predicting outcomes for these patients is currently unknown. Dr. VanWagner’s study aims to better understand changes in heart function after a TIPS procedure to better intervene and prevent heart failure in these at-risk patients.

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