oa South African Medical Journal - The portacaval shunt operation : with special reference to the use of vein grafts

Volume 27, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



The results of this series of portacaval vein graft operations, with a maximum follow-up of 15 months, are encouraging. There has been no mortality and a satisfactory relief of major symptoms. This technique, although necessitating the performance of two anastomoses, has the advantage that the most hazardous stage of the ordinary portacaval shunt operation, namely full mobilization of the portal vein, is eliminated. The size of the shunt (allowing for shrinkage due to post-operative fibrous contracture) can, by the use of suitable vein grafts, be adjusted so as to ensure a permanent reduction in portal pre sure. 4. Preliminary observations suggest that vein grafts used as a bridge between portal vein and vena cava are effective in relieving portal congestion, while insofar as some portal blood flow to the liver is retained, the well-known regenerative powers of this organ are not unduly handicapped. By avoiding complete obstruction of the portal vein during the performance of the anastomosis, the danger of post-operative mesenteric venous thrombosis is reduced. Evidence is produced to show that the patency of the vein grafts is maintained following operation.

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