Partial portal decompression has become a popular option in the treatment of complicated portal hypertension. This study was undertaken to report long-term follow-up after partial portal decompression obtained utilizing 8 mm prosthetic H-graft portacaval shunts. A total of 110 consecutive patients underwent H-graft portacaval shunting through a protocol that detailed care and studies from 1988 to 1996. Prospective follow-up recorded efficacy of partial portal decompression, shunt patency, morbidity of shunting, and survival. Seventy males and 40 females, whose average age was 54 +/-12.7 years (standard deviation), underwent shunting. Cirrhosis was due to alcohol abuse in 64%. Fourteen percent were in Child's class A, 55% in Child's class B, and 31% in Child's class C. Shunts were undertaken as emergencies in 20%, urgently in 13%, and electively in 67%. Shunting decreased portal pressure in all patients (30 +/-5.3 Hg to 19.9 -/+5.5 mm Hg; P <0.001). Early and late thrombosis was 6.4% and 3.6%, respectively. Late rebleeding occurred in 5.4%. Perioperative (30-day) mortality was 11.8%, and was highest for patients in Child's class C. Three-year survival was 53%. Five-year survival was 41%. Partial portal decompression is achieved with H-graft portacaval shunting. Rebleeding, shunt occlusion, and encephalopathy are uncommon. In this series of unselected older patients with alcoholic cirrhosis, 5-year survival after H-graft portacaval shunting was greater than 40% with minimal intervention.