Treatment of acute variceal bleeding.
Dig Liver Dis. 2008 May;40(5):328-36
Authors: Bendtsen F, Krag A, Møller S
The management of variceal bleeding remains a clinical challenge with a high mortality. Standardisation in supportive and new therapeutic treatments seems to have improved survival within the last 25 years. Although overall survival has improved in recent years, mortality is still closely related to failure to control initial bleeding or early re-bleeding occurring in up to 30-40% of patients. Initial procedures are to secure and protect the airway, and administer volume replacement to stabilize the patient. Treatment with vasoactive drugs should be started as soon as possible, since a reduction in portal pressure is associated with a better control of bleeding and may facilitate later endoscopic procedures. Vasopressin and its analogues Terlipressin and somatostatin and analogues are the two types of medicine, which has been evaluated. In meta-analysis, only Terlipressin have demonstrated effects on control of bleeding and on mortality. Somatostatin and its analogues improve control of bleeding, but show in meta-analysis no effects on mortality. Approximately 20% of patients with variceal bleeding will suffer from an infection, when they are hospitalized. Invasive procedures will further increase the risk of bacterial infections. Meta-analysis of clinical trials comparing antibiotics with placebo demonstrates that antibiotic prophylaxis improves survival with 9% (p<0.004). Quinolones or intravenous cephalosporins should be preferred. Early endoscopy should be performed in patients with major bleeding. Endoscopic therapy increases control of bleeding and decreases the risks of rebleeding and mortality. Ligation is probably more effective than sclerotherapy with fewer complications and should therefore be preferred, if possible. In case of gastric variceal bleeding, tissue adhesives should be used. In conclusion: Improvements in resuscitation and prevention of complications have together with introduction of vasoactive drugs and refinement of endoscopic therapy majorily changed the prognosis of the patient presenting with variceal bleeding.
PMID: 18243077 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]