Coil-Assisted Retrograde Transvenous Obliteration (CARTO): An Alternative Treatment Option for Refractory Hepatic Encephalopathy

Edward Wolfgang Lee, Sammy Saab, Fady Kaldas, Savannah Fletcher, Ronald W. Busuttil, Francisco Durazo, Justin P. McWilliams, Joseph DiNorcia, Siddharth A. Padia, Stephen T. Kee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Overt hepatic encephalopathy (OHE) is a serious complication of liver dysfunction, which is associated with severe morbidity/mortality and healthcare resource utilization. OHE can be medically refractory due to spontaneous portosystemic shunts (SPSSs) and therefore a new treatment option for these SPSSs is critical. Methods: This is a retrospective study of 43 patients with medically refractory OHE, who underwent CARTO (Coil-Assisted Retrograde Transvenous Obliteration) procedures between June 2012 and October 2016. The patient demographic characteristics, technical and clinical outcomes with an emphasis on HE improvement, and complications are reviewed and analyzed. Results: The overall clinical success rate was 91% with a significant HE improvement. Eighty-one percent of patients had clinically significant improvement from OHE and 67% of patients had complete resolution of their HE symptoms during our follow-up period of 893 ± 585 days (range 36–1881 days, median 755.0 days). The median WH score improved from 3 (range 2–4) pre-CARTO to 1 (range 0–4) post-CARTO (p < 0.001). The median ammonia level significantly decreased from 134.5 pre-CARTO to 70.0 post-CARTO (p < 0.001) in 3 days. The overall mean survival was 1465.5 days (95% CI of 1243.0 and 1688.0 days). Only three patients had recurrent HE symptoms. There were 39.6% minor complication rate including new or worsened ascites and esophageal varices, and only 2.3% major complication rate requiring additional treatment (one patient with bleeding esophageal varices requiring treatment). No procedure-related death is noted. Conclusions: CARTO appears to be a safe and effective treatment option for refractory overt hepatic encephalopathy (OHE) due to spontaneous portosystemic shunts. CARTO could be an excellent addition to currently available treatment options for these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1187-1196
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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