Variceal bleeding is one of the major complications of portal hypertension. Gastric variceal bleeding is less common than esophageal variceal bleeding; however, it is associated with a high morbidity and mortality rate and its management is largely uncharted due to a relatively less-established literature. In the West (United States and Europe), the primary school of management is to decompress the portal circulation utilizing the transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS). In the East (Japan and South Korea), the primary school of management is to address the gastric varices (GVs) specifically by sclerosing them utilizing the balloon-occluded retrograde transvenous obliteration (BRTO) procedure. The concept (1970s), evolution, and development (1980s1990s) of both procedures run parallel to one another; neither is newer than the other is. The difference is that one was adopted mostly by the East (BRTO), while the other has been adopted mostly by the West (TIPS). TIPS is effective in emergently controlling bleeding for GVs even though the commonly referenced studies about managing GVs with TIPS are studies with TIPS created by bare stents. However, the results have improved with the use of stent grafts for creating TIPS. Nevertheless, TIPS cannot be tolerated by patients with poor hepatic reserve. BRTO is equally effective in controlling bleeding GVs as well as significantly reducing the GV rebleed rate. But the resultant diversion of blood flow into the portal circulation, and in turn the liver, increases the risk of developing esophageal varices and ectopic varices with their potential to bleed. Unlike TIPS, the blood diversion that occurs after BRTO improves, if not preserves, hepatic function for 69 months post-BRTO. The authors discuss the detailed results and critique the literature, which has evaluated and remarked on both procedures. Future research prospects and speculation as to the ideal patients for each procedure are discussed.
- transvenous obliteration