Background & Aims: Reduction in portal pressure by self-expandable polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE)-covered transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunts (TIPS) is a treatment option for refractory ascites. Data on clinical outcomes after ePTFE-TIPS vs repetitive large-volume paracentesis (LVP) plus albumin (A) administration for the treatment of patients with refractory ascites are limited. Methods: Retrospective comparison of ePTFE-TIPS vs LVP+A in terms of (i) control of ascites, (ii) occurrence of overt hepatic encephalopathy (HE) and (iii) transplant-free survival in cirrhotic patients with refractory ascites. Results: Among n = 221 patients with cirrhosis and refractory ascites, n = 140 received ePTFE-TIPS and were compared to n = 71 patients undergoing repetitive LVP+A. After ePTFE-TIPS, ascites was controlled without any further need for paracentesis in n = 76 (54%; n = 7 without and n = 69 with diuretics). The need for frequent large-volume paracentesis was significantly higher in the LVP+A group than with ePTFE-TIPS (median 0.67 (IQR: 0.23-2.63) months vs 49.5 (IQR: 5.07-102.60) months until paracentesis, log-rank P <.001). De-novo incidence of HE was similar in ePTFE-TIPS and LVP+A patients (log-rank P =.361). Implantation of ePTFE-TIPS was associated with improved 1-year survival as compared to LVP+A (65.6% vs 48.4%, log-rank P =.033). Age (odds ratio (OR):1.05; 95% confidence interval (95% CI):1.03-1.07; P <.001), serum albumin (OR: 0.95; 95% CI: 0.92-0.99; P =.013) and hepatocellular carcinoma (OR: 1.66; 95% CI: 1.06-2.58; P =.026) emerged as independent predictors of survival. Conclusions: ePTFE-TIPS results in superior control of ascites without increasing the risk for overt HE as compared to LVP+A. Although ePTFE-TIPS improved 1-year survival in cirrhotic patients with refractory ascites, its use was not independently associated with transplant-free survival.
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