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Portal hypertension


What is portal hypertension and how is it treated? What is the function of the liver? What happens when the liver is diseased?

An animated video has been specially created for children and parents interested in this subject, to better understand portal hypertension.

Created by Pre Valérie McLin (Attending Physician, Swiss pediatric liver center ,and Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Pediatric Nutrition Unit, HUG), this clip has been produced by the Toysfilms company, thanks to the support of the Gourgas Foundation.

Click on the picture to view the video:

Meso-Rex shunt

As mentioned in the video, the most common cause of portal hypertension in children is an obstruction of the portal vein outside the liver, called portal cavernoma.

It can lead to bleeding esophageal varices or other problems. In this case, surgical treatment can be provided in most cases.

The video talks about a "shunt": this is the classic Rex shunt, also called the meso-Rex shunt. It is a kind of bridge to bypass the obstacle outside the liver, the portal cavernoma: the surgeons use a vein from the child's neck, which can easily be removed, and that will be placed between a large vein of the intestine, the superior mesenteric vein, and the Rex space, a location of the portal vein in the liver that is quite easily accessible by the surgeon. 

In this way, the blood flow, blocked by the cavernoma and in hyperpressure, finds its way back easily through the bridge called the meso-Rex shunt, and can finally flow again normally, without resistance, through the liver. The physiological circuit is restored!