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Curr Med Res Opin. 2016;32(3):467-75. doi: 10.1185/03007995.2015.1124846. Epub 2016 Jan 25.

Current approaches to the management of patients with liver cirrhosis who have acute esophageal variceal bleeding.

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a Department of Faculty Surgery , South Ural State Medical University , Chelyabinsk , Russia.



Esophageal variceal bleeding is the most dangerous complication in patients with liver cirrhosis, and it is accompanied by high mortality. Their treatment can be complex, and requires a multidisciplinary approach. This review examines current approaches to the management of patients with liver cirrhosis who have acute esophageal variceal bleeding.


PubMed, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Systematic Reviews were searched for articles published between 1987 and 2015. Relevant articles were identified using the following terms: 'esophageal variceal bleeding', 'portal hypertension' and 'complications of liver cirrhosis'. The reference lists of articles identified were also searched for other relevant publications. Inclusion criteria were restricted to the management of patients with liver cirrhosis who have acute esophageal variceal bleeding.


It is currently recommended to combine vasoactive drugs (preferable somatostatin or terlipressin) and endoscopic therapies (endoscopic band ligation as first choice, sclerotherapy if endoscopic band ligation not feasible) for the initial treatment of acute variceal bleeding. Antibiotic prophylaxis must be regarded as an integral part of the treatment. The use of a Sengstaken-Blakemore tube is appropriate only in cases of refractory bleeding if the above methods cannot be used. An alternative to balloon tamponade may be the installation of self-expandable metal stents. The transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt is an extremely useful technique for the treatment of acute bleeding from esophageal varices. Although most current clinical guidelines classify it as second-line therapy, the Baveno VI workshop recommends early transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt with expanded polytetrafluoroethylene-covered stents within 72ā€‰h (ideally <24ā€‰h) in patients with esophageal variceal bleeding at high risk of treatment failure (e.g. Child-Turcotte-Pugh class Cā€‰<ā€‰14 points or Child-Turcotte-Pugh class B with active bleeding) after initial pharmacological and endoscopic therapy. Urgent surgical intervention is rarely performed and can be considered only in case of failure of conservative and/or endoscopic therapy and being unable to use a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt. Among surgical operations described in the literature are a variety of portocaval anastomosis and azygoportal disconnection procedures.


To improve the results of treatment for patients with liver cirrhosis who develop acute esophageal variceal bleeding, it is important to stratify patients into risk groups, which will allow one to tailor therapeutic approaches to the expected results.


Complications of liver cirrhosis; Esophageal variceal bleeding; Portal hypertension; Treatment

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