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Gut. 1999 Feb;44(2):270-3.

Anti-inflammatory drugs and variceal bleeding: a case-control study.

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CHU, Poitiers, France.



Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can have severe gastrointestinal effects and cause peptic ulcers to bleed. Acute bleeding from oesophageal varices is a major complication of cirrhosis of the liver.


To investigate the role, using a case-control study, of NSAIDs in first bleeding episodes associated with oesophageal or cardial varices in cirrhotic patients.


A structured interview was conducted of 125 cirrhotic patients with bleeding mainly related to oesophageal varices and 75 cirrhotic controls with oesophageal varices who had never bled.


Cirrhotic patients who were admitted for bleeding related to portal hypertension were more likely to have used NSAIDs during the week before the index day (31 of 125 (25%)) than the cirrhotic controls (eight of 75 (11%); odds ratio = 2.8, p = 0.016). Use of aspirin alone or combined with other NSAIDs was also more prevalent in the cases (21 of 125 (17%)) than in the controls (three of 75 (4%); odds ratio = 4.9, p = 0.007). Logistic regression analysis showed that NSAID use (p = 0.022, odds ratio = 2. 9, 95% confidence interval = 1.8 to 4.7) and variceal size (p<0.001, odds ratio = 4.0, 95% confidence interval = 1.4 to 11.5) were the only variables independently associated with the risk of bleeding.


Aspirin, used alone or combined with other NSAIDs, was associated with a first variceal bleeding episode in patients with cirrhosis. Given the life threatening nature of this complication, the possible benefit of this treatment should be weighed against the risk shown here. No firm conclusions could be drawn on non-aspirin NSAIDs used alone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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