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Doppler follow-up after TIPS placement is not routinely indicated. A 16-years single centre experience.

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) is an effective intervention to treat complications of portal hypertension. Since the introduction of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-covered stents, TIPS patency rates have improved, and the need for routine TIPS surveillance has become questionable. Aims of this study were to assess the indications, clinical outcome and survival, and yield of Doppler ultrasound follow-up in patients who received a TIPS in an academic centre.

METHODS: A retrospective cohort study of all adult consecutive patients who underwent PTFE-covered TIPS placement between 2001 and 2016. Clinical, biochemical, and imaging findings were reviewed and analysed.

RESULTS: A total of 103 patients were included for analysis. At one-year follow-up, control of bleeding was successful in 91% (41/45), and control of refractory ascites in 80% (8/10). In patients with variceal bleeding, a higher MELD score was a risk factor for 90-day mortality (HR 1.28 per point, p < 0.001) and one-year mortality (HR 1.24 per point, p < 0.001). In patients with refractory ascites, a higher MELD score was only a risk factor for 90-day mortality (HR 1.13 per point, p = 0.03). Doppler ultrasound investigations during follow-up revealed abnormalities in 4% (6/166), all of which were associated with clinical deterioration, while abnormalities were detected in 11.4% (19/166) of patients who presented with clinical symptoms of TIPS dysfunction.

CONCLUSION: The use of routine Doppler ultrasound follow-up after PTFE-covered TIPS placement seems unnecessary as it had a very low yield and abnormal Doppler findings were almost always associated with clinical symptoms of TIPS dysfunction.

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