Endoscopic Variceal Sclerotherapy as Primary Treatment for Bleeding Esophageal Varices

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In this study of 75 patients with bleeding esophageal varices we confirm not only the ability of endoscopic variceal sclerotherapy (EVS) to control acute bleeding episodes but to effect variceal obliteration that confers a significant survival advantage, regardless of initial Child's classification. Survival correlates directly with the degree of hepatic dysfunction, although all patients regardless of Child's status have a statistically significant survival advantage when treated until esophageal variceal obliteration is achieved. All patients treated with EVS should be followed for life, but virtually all follow-up can be done on an outpatient basis. Shunt surgery should be reserved for: (a) patients whose acute bleeding cannot be controlled with EVS at the time of index bleed; and (b) patients who rebleed repeatedly or uncontrollably from gastric or duodenal varices. EVS is more cost-effective than other available treatments. It also effectively stabilizes potential candidates for orthotopic liver transplantation. Despite a progressive increase in the admissions for bleeding varices at our institution, the introduction of EVS has been associated with a significant decline in portosystemic shunt therapy. We believe that EVS is now the first-line treatment for all patients with bleeding esophageal varices.

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