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Dig Liver Dis. 2009 Sep;41(9):676-82. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2009.01.002. Epub 2009 Feb 28.

Practice patterns in screening for varices: an American survey.

Author information

  • 1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7080, United States. abarritt@unch.unc.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS:

Guidelines recommend screening for gastroesophageal varices. Regional studies suggest screening is underutilized, but information from across the United States is unavailable. We explored practice patterns and adherence to guidelines in a random sample of physicians and sought to define whether differences existed according to practice type, setting and years of practice.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Surveys were randomly sent to 600 gastroenterologists and hepatologists. Descriptive data is presented as percentage and comparisons were performed by chi-square analysis. Significance was defined at a p value <0.05.

RESULTS:

180 completed surveys were returned. Mean age was 48.9+/-10 years and 87% were male. 50% were community-based and 74% had been in practice >10 years. 53% (78% hepatologists versus 45% of gastroenterologists) screened consistently (>75% of the time), (p<0.001). No differences in screening frequency were found according to practice setting or years in practice. 62% screened all cirrhotics whereas 38% screened based on clinical characteristics. In patients without gastroesophageal varices, 60% repeated esophagogastroduodenoscopy in 2-3 years. In those with small gastroesophageal varices, repeat esophagogastroduodenoscopy was recommended in 1-2 years by 73%. In patients with small and large varices, 40% and 54% of physicians respectively, recommended prophylaxis. 6% of physicians recommend prophylaxis regardless of the presence or size of varices.

CONCLUSIONS:

Screening for varices is under-implemented. Many screened based on clinical findings that have not been shown to reliably predict high-risk gastroesophageal varices. Continued education and removal of financial barriers to screening are central to increasing screening rates and improving patient outcomes.

PMID:
19251491
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3292195
Free PMC Article
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