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J Hepatol. 2003 Oct;39(4):509-14.

Cirrhosis and bleeding: the need for very early management.

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  • 1Institut de Santé Publique Faculté de Médecine de Poitiers, Poitiers, France.

Abstract

BACKGROUND/AIMS:

Retrospective studies suggest that the prognosis of patients with cirrhosis and variceal hemorrhage has improved in more recent decades. In a prospective cohort study in which the choice of prophylactic therapy was left to each practitioner, we followed cirrhotic patients with medium/large varices to determine factors predictive of bleeding and death.

METHODS:

Three hundred fourteen patients with grades 2 or 3 esophageal varices (Child A and B/C: 218 and 96) were enrolled. One hundred seventy-three patients had no previous history of variceal bleeding. Only 245 patients (100% of patients with prior variceal hemorrhage, 61% of patients without prior hemorrhage) were receiving some form of prophylactic therapy. The median follow-up was 18 months.

RESULTS:

There were 76 bleeding events and 14 related deaths (18%); nine of these deaths occurred within 24 h of bleeding onset (two at home, two during hospital transfer, and five in hospital, a mean of 2.5 h after onset; six involved Child C patients). Twenty-five deaths were not due to bleeding but were closely related to cirrhosis. In a Cox model, the presence of tense ascites (relative risk 3.4, 95% confidence interval, CI 2.5-5.9) and a prior history of hemorrhage (relative risk 4.4, 95% CI 2.6-7.5) were independent predictors of variceal hemorrhage. In patients without a prior history of bleeding, bleeding risk was higher with more prolonged prothrombin time and lower when patients were receiving propranolol.

CONCLUSIONS:

Despite the advent of effective drugs and endoscopic therapy for variceal bleeding, about a quarter of deaths occur very early after bleeding onset, confirming the need for rapid specific management.

PMID:
12971959
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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