Denver peritoneovenous shunts for the management of malignant ascites: A review of the literature in the post LeVeen era

Michael A. White, Steven C. Agle, Reema K. Padia, Emmanuel E. Zervos

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34 Scopus citations


Most case series describing peritoneovenous (PV) shunts for malignant ascites include both LeVeen and Denver shunts. Conclusions based on these studies are no longer clinically relevant since the LeVeen shunt has been discontinued. The purpose of this study was to identify outcomes specific to Denver shunts to establish expected results in the modern era. Case series describing PV shunts for malignant ascites between 1980 and 2008 were identified through a keyword PUBMED search. Whenever possible, results attributable to Denver shunts were abstracted and analyzed. Nineteen series describing 341 patients undergoing 353 Denver PV shunts for malignant ascites were identified. The primary indications for PV shunts were unspecified or cancers of unknown origin (40%), ovarian cancer (16%), and pancreatic cancer (8%). Primary patency averaged 87 ± 57 days. Seventy-four per cent of patients died with functioning shunts. Complications occurred in 38% of patients including occlusion (24%) and disseminated intravascular coagulation (9%). Average survival of all patients was 3.0 ± 1.7 months and shunts provided effective palliation in 75.3%. One and a half per cent of 133 patients who had autopsies were reported to have hematologic dissemination. These results are not statistically different than overall results reported for both shunts combined or LeVeen shunts alone. Studies that report combined outcomes with Denver and LeVeen shunts for malignant ascites are neither negatively, nor positively influenced by one specific shunt. Expectations following PV shunting for malignant ascites do not have to be revised because LeVeen shunts are no longer available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1070-1075
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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