Portal hypertension: pre-primary and primary prophylaxis of variceal bleeding.Dig Liver Dis. 2008 May; 40(5):318-27.DL
In liver cirrhosis, variceal bleeding is the last in a chain of events initiated by the increase in portal pressure (estimated in clinical practice by the hepatic venous pressure gradient). When hepatic venous pressure gradient goes above 10 mmHg the patient is at risk of developing varices, and when hepatic venous pressure gradient reaches 12 mmHg variceal bleeding might develop. Currently, there is not any effective therapy for the prevention of the development of varices. When varices are small, beta-adrenergic blockers might prevent the enlargement of the varices, and may reduce the risk of variceal bleeding. In patients with medium to large varices, beta-blockers are clearly effective in reducing the risk of variceal bleeding. Endoscopic band ligation might be more effective than beta-blockers, but available evidence is still very weak.