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Trop Med Int Health. 1998 Sep;3(9):728-35.

Sonographic prediction of variceal bleeding in patients with liver fibrosis due to Schistosoma mansoni.

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Institute of Tropical Medicine, Berlin, Germany.


Several studies have shown that the characteristic hepatic abnormalities induced by Schistosoma mansoni detectable by ultrasound correlate with the degree of oesophageal varices. So far the value of ultrasound for predicting variceal haemorrhage has not been assessed. Fifty Brazilian patients with schistosomal periportal fibrosis from Alagoas State, 18 of whom had already bled from oesophageal varices, were enrolled in a combined cross-sectional and longitudinal study and investigated clinically, by endoscopy and by ultrasound. Twenty-seven of the patients were monitored until another bleeding episode, death or for a minimum of 28 months. Eight of these patients could be followed up for a further three years. A sonographic score, which accounts for the degree of echogenic periportal thickening and of portal vein dilatation, was calculated for all patients. A highly significant correlation (P < 0.0001) existed between the sonographic score and the occurrence of previous variceal haemorrhage, paralleled by a similar correlation between the sonographic score and the degree of oesophageal varices (P < 0.001). In the 27 patients monitored longitudinally, the sonographic score indicated the risk of future variceal bleeding (P < 0.0001). The sonographic score reliably predicts the risk of variceal bleeding in individual patients with periportal fibrosis. Hence, the application of endoscopy, if available at all in endemic areas, may be restricted to the patients at risk of future variceal bleeding, as determined by ultrasound. Since portable devices can be carried even to remote areas, the application of the proposed score in community surveys could provide a new means for the identification of high-risk patients in S. mansoni-infected populations.

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