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Gastroenterology. 2010 Jun;138(7):2321-31, 2331.e1-2. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2010.02.058. Epub 2010 Mar 6.

Factors that determine the development and progression of gastroesophageal varices in patients with chronic hepatitis C.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0362, USA.



We aimed to identify the incidence and predictors of de novo gastroesophageal variceal formation and progression in a large cohort of patients with chronic hepatitis C and advanced fibrosis.


All participants in the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment against Cirrhosis Trial were offered an endoscopy before treatment and again after 4 years. Patients with varices at baseline also had an endoscopy at 2 years. Baseline laboratory and clinical parameters were analyzed as predictors of de novo variceal formation and variceal progression.


De novo varices developed in 157 of the 598 (26.2%) patients. Most of the new varices were small (76.4%) and only 1% of patients developed variceal hemorrhage. The likelihood of developing varices was associated with subject race (Hispanic > Caucasian > African American; P = .0005), lower baseline levels of albumin (P = .051), and higher levels of hyaluronic acid (P < .001) with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve = .70. Among 210 patients with existing gastroesophageal varices, 74 (35.2%) had variceal progression or bleeding during follow-up. Patients with higher baseline ratios of serum aspartate/alanine aminotransferase (P = .028) and lower platelet counts (P = .0002) were at greatest risk of variceal progression (area under the receiver operating characteristic = .72). Prolonged, low-dose peginterferon-alpha2a therapy and beta-blockers did not influence the risk of developing new or enlarging varices.


Development of varices in patients with chronic hepatitis C is associated with patient race/ethnicity and laboratory markers of disease severity. Prolonged low-dose peginterferon-alpha2a therapy and beta-blockers do not reduce the risk of variceal development or progression.

Copyright 2010 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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