Background: Portal biliopathy refers to abnormalities of the biliary tract developing in relation to portal hypertension. Portosystemic splenorenal or mesenterico-caval shunting is a safe and effective method to relieve biliary obstruction in symptomatic patients but is unfeasible in cases of extensive thrombosis of the splenic and superior mesenteric veins. In such cases, a makeshift portosystemic shunt between a suitable portal varix and the caval system can be an interesting alternative. Methods: This study describes 3 patients admitted for symptomatic portal biliopathy caused by idiopathic portal cavernoma associated with extensive portal thrombosis. A makeshift portosystemic shunt was carried out after preoperative portal imaging had demonstrated the presence of a suitable splanchnic varix. Results: The makeshift portosystemic shunt was performed by direct anastomosis in 2 patients and by prosthetic interposition in 1 case. Shunting was between a splanchnic varix and the inferior vena cava in 2 cases and the left renal vein in 1 case. Postoperative morbidity was nil and follow-up ranging from 2 to 12 years showed good results with no recurrence of biliary obstruction. Conclusion: In patients presenting symptomatic portal biliopathy associated with extensive thrombosis of the portal system, a makeshift portosystemic shunt is preferable to repeated endoscopic procedures or intrahepatic biliodigestive bypass, provided that a suitable varix is available.

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