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Emergency endoscopy strategies for improved outcomes.

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1
Gastroenterology and Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Service, University of Milan, IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Italy.

Abstract

Variceal haemorrhage is the most serious complication of portal hypertension and is associated with a high mortality rate. The first stage of treatment is to stabilize the patient, followed by emergency diagnostic endoscopy to identify the source of the bleeding. If active variceal bleeding is found, endoscopic intervention is performed to induce haemostasis. The endoscopic techniques commonly used to treat bleeding gastro-oesophageal varices include injection sclerotherapy and band ligation. Sclerotherapy achieves haemostasis through the induction of thrombosis or by external compression of the vessel and should be performed during diagnostic endoscopy. Band ligation achieves haemostasis by physical constriction of the varix. Band ligation may be less effective than sclerotherapy in the treatment of actively bleeding oesophageal varices and is therefore recommended for subsequent elective treatment of non-bleeding varices. However, such techniques are difficult to perform during active bleeding. This has prompted the search for improved treatment protocols. Vasoactive drugs which lower portal hypertension have been administered before, during and after endoscopy and may offer an improvement in treatment. Data from several trials have suggested that pharmacotherapy in combination with endoscopic intervention is more effective than endoscopic treatment alone. Furthermore, pharmacotherapy continued for 5 days following endoscopy significantly reduces the incidence of variceal rebleeding. A strict regimen for emergency endoscopy should be used with sclerotherapy forming the basis of treatment--administered in combination with pharmacotherapy, to optimize clinical outcome. However, there is still debate concerning what is the most effective drug for treating variceal haemorrhage.

PMID:
9595600
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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