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Ann Surg. 2006 Nov;244(5):764-70.

Variceal recurrence, rebleeding, and survival after endoscopic injection sclerotherapy in 287 alcoholic cirrhotic patients with bleeding esophageal varices.

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Department of Surgery, University of Cape Town Health Sciences Faculty, Anzio Road, Observatory 7925, Cape Town, South Africa.



This study tested the validity of the hypothesis that eradication of esophageal varices by repeated injection sclerotherapy would reduce recurrent variceal bleeding and death from bleeding varices in a high-risk cohort of alcoholic patients with cirrhosis.


Although banding of esophageal varices is now regarded as the most effective method of endoscopic intervention, injection sclerotherapy is still widely used to control acute esophageal variceal bleeding as well as to eradicate varices to prevent recurrent bleeding. This large single-center prospective study provides data on the natural history of alcoholic cirrhotic patients with bleeding varices who underwent injection sclerotherapy.


Between 1984 and 2001, 287 alcoholic cirrhotic patients (225 men, 62 women; mean age, 51.9 years; range, 24-87 years; Child-Pugh grades A, 39; B, 116; C, 132) underwent a total of 2565 upper gastrointestinal endoscopic sessions, which included 353 emergency and 1015 elective variceal injection treatments. Variceal rebleeding, eradication, recurrence, and survival were recorded.


Before eradication of varices was achieved, 104 (36.2%) of the 287 patients had a total of 170 further bleeding episodes after the first endoscopic intervention during the index hospital admission. Rebleeding was markedly reduced after eradication of varices. In 147 (80.7%) of 182 patients who survived more than 3 months, varices were eradicated after a mean of 5 injection sessions and remained eradicated in 69 patients (mean follow-up, 34.6 months; range, 1-174 months). Varices recurred in 78 patients and rebled in 45 of these patients. Median follow-up was 32.3 months (mean, 42.1 months; range, 3-198.9 months). Cumulative overall survival by life-table analysis was 67%, 42%, and 26% at 1, 3, and 5 years, respectively. A total of 201 (70%) patients died during follow-up. Liver failure was the most common cause of death.


Repeated sclerotherapy eradicates esophageal varices in most alcoholic cirrhotic patients with a reduction in rebleeding. Despite control of variceal bleeding, survival at 5 years was only 26% because of death due to liver failure in most patients.

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