Cystic fibrosis and portal hypertension: Distal splenorenal shunt can prevent the need for future liver transplant

Caroline Lemoine, Joan Lokar, Susanna A McColley, Estella M Alonso, Riccardo A Superina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: The management of portal hypertension (PHT)in children with well compensated cirrhosis and cystic fibrosis (CF)is controversial. We present our experience with distal splenorenal shunting (DSRS)for the treatment of PHT as an alternative to liver transplantation (LT). Methods: Between 2008 and 2017, 5 CF children underwent a DSRS at a pediatric hepatobiliary and transplantation referral center. LT (n = 9)was reserved for patients with decompensated cirrhosis. Statistical analysis was done using the paired t-test (p < 0.05 considered significant). Results: Mean PELD/MELD score was significantly lower for DSRS patients than LT (3 ± 6 vs 28 ± 4, p < 0.001). All 5 DSRS patients had grade III–IV varices. One bled prior to surgery. After DSRS, spleen size decreased significantly from 8.4 ± 1.5 cm to 4.4 ± 1.8 cm (p = 0.019). Mean platelet count remained stable (87.8 ± 48 to 91.8 ± 35, p = 0.9). There were no postoperative complications. No DSRS patient experienced variceal bleeding following shunt creation. Liver function tests remained stable in the DSRS group, and no patient required a liver transplant (median follow up 4.65 years, range 1.24–7.79). Conclusions: Patients with cystic fibrosis who have well-compensated cirrhosis and symptomatic portal hypertension can be palliated with distal splenorenal shunting and do not need liver transplants. These patients can undergo shunting with minimal morbidity. Type of study: Case series with no comparison group. Level of evidence: IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1076-1082
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Cystic fibrosis-liver related disease
  • Distal splenorenal shunt
  • Liver transplantation
  • Portal hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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