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J Hepatol. 1997 Feb;26(2):312-24.

Propranolol and sclerotherapy in the prevention of gastrointestinal rebleeding in patients with cirrhosis: a meta-analysis.

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Service d'Hépato-Gastroentérologie, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France.



A meta-analysis of nine selected randomized trials was performed to compare the effects of propranolol and sclerotherapy in the prevention of rebleeding and on survival in patients with cirrhosis.


Five end points were assessed: rebleeding, esophageal rebleeding, death, death due to bleeding, and adverse events. Analyses were performed according to the intention-to-treat method. For each end point, heterogeneity and treatment efficacy were assessed by the Der Simonian and Peto methods. When a significant difference was observed, sensitivity analyses were performed by successive stratification according to treatment duration, type of publication, severity of cirrhosis, and methodological quality.


The mean percentage of patients free of rebleeding, the mean survival rate and the mean percentage of patients free of death from bleeding were not significantly different between patients treated with propranolol and those treated by sclerotherapy. The mean percentage of patients free of variceal rebleeding was 39% in propranolol group and 55% in sclerotherapy group (mean difference: 17%, 95% confidence interval: 9-25%, p < 0.001). The mean percentage of patients free of adverse events was significantly higher in the propranolol group than in the sclerotherapy group (mean difference: 22%, 95% confidence interval: 6-38%, p < 0.007).


In patients with cirrhosis and esophageal varices, endoscopic sclerotherapy is more effective than propranolol in preventing variceal rebleeding, but the incidence of adverse events is significantly higher with sclerotherapy. There was no difference in survival between the treatments. Propranolol should be considered as a first choice treatment for preventing rebleeding.

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