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The clinical outcome of a covered vs. uncovered transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) for patients with Budd–Chiari syndrome (BCS) is as yet largely unknown.To compare patency rates of bare and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-covered stents, and to investigate clinical outcome using four prognostic indices [Child–Pugh score, Rotterdam BCS index, modified Clichy score and Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD)].Consecutive patients with BCS who had undergone TIPS between January 1994 and March 2006 were evaluated in a retrospective review in a single centre.Twenty-three TIPS procedures were performed on 16 patients. The primary patency rate at 2 years was 12% using bare and 56% using covered stents (P=0.09). We found marked clinical improvement at 3 months post-TIPS as determined by a drop in median Child–Pugh score (10–7, P=0.04), Rotterdam BCS index (1.90–0.83, P=0.02) and modified Clichy score (7.77–2.94, P=0.003), but not in MELD (18.91–17.42, P=0.9). Survival at 1 and 3 years post-TIPS was 80% (95% CI: 59–100%) and 72% (95% CI: 48–96%). Four patients (25%) died and one required liver transplantation.A transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt using PTFE-covered stents shows better patency rates than bare stents in BCS. Moreover, TIPS leads to an improvement in important prognostic indicators for the survival of patients with BCS.