Longer treatment with vasoactive drugs to prevent early variceal rebleeding in cirrhosis

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Bleeding oesophageal varices (BOV), resulting from portal hypertension, can prove fatal. Not only is it important to stop the initial bleeding, which may lead to hypovolaemic shock, but also to treat this condition in the longer term, and, consequently, the prevention of rebleeding needs to be addressed. This review highlights the current findings on the haemostatic drug, terlipressin, focusing particular attention on the potential for longer-term treatment strategies in the prevention of rebleeding. The efficacy of terlipressin in treating acute BOV, its low incidence of severe side-effects (comparable to those of somatostatin) and its favourable comparison with sclerotherapy in the prevention of early rebleeds, all indicate the potential for terlipressin administration to be extended to 5 days in the longer-term treatment of BOV. In addition, terlipressin administration, in conjunction with sclerotherapy, can significantly reduce the likelihood of rebleeding compared with sclerotherapy alone and further supports its potential use in the longer-term treatment of BOV.

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