Friday, January 13, 2012

Veterinary Highlights: New Technique To Treat Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt (Liver Shunt)

Intrahepatic portosystemic shunts (IHPSS), or liver shunt is a life-ending congenital defect that causes blood to bypass the liver and let toxins build up. In English, the blood is directed somewhere else and doesn't make it in the liver.

Left untreated, the liver atrophies and death follows.

The solution is to block the shunt and get the blood go where it's supposed to. In the past, this was done surgically, but with poor outcome. UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is doing a study into a new technique, transvenous coil embolization, which is substantially less invasive.

Coil embolization is a catheter-based procedure that allows precise closure of abnormal blood flow in a blood vessel. A catheter with a metallic occluding coil is inserted into an artery, usually in the groin (the femoral artery). It is then advanced to the abnormal blood vessel. Once properly positioned, the metal coil is released, springing into position within the vessel. It remains firmly in place by the expansion of the metal coils. A blood clot will form on the coil, completely obstructing the abnormal blood flow beyond the coil. Eventually a scar will form, creating a permanent seal.

This procedure is a promise of new hope for dogs affected with a liver shunt.

Mick, and Aussie pup, was born with this liver defect, but this technique returned him to health. Mick was facing a death sentence when his vet recommended his owners to contact UC Davis to see if Mick might be a candidate for a new advanced surgery. Today, 1-year-old Mick is a typical, exuberant and healthy Australian shepherd and living with a loving family.

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is looking for patients to participate in the study.

Source article: Last-chance surgery pays off for Aussie pup
Further reading: Percutaneous transvenous coil embolization of portosystemic shunts


  1. Do you happen to know any numbers on how many dogs this affects? Just curious to learn more about this issue.

  2. Hi Helen, no, I don't know the statistics, I'll see if I can find out. Breeders should know though.