[Non-surgical treatment of hemorrhage caused by portal hypertension in cirrhosis: hemostatic treatment, prevention of the first hemorrhage, prevention of recurrence].Rev Prat. 1990 Jun 01; 40(16):1458-61.RP
Oesophageal varices are found in two-thirds of cirrhotic patients, and they bleed by rupture in only 50% of the cases. Each bleeding episode carries a mortality risk of about 30%. Recurrences occur in 70% of survivors. Patients with cirrhosis may be considered as being at risk of haemorrhage when large varices, notably with "red signs", are discovered at endoscopy. In two-thirds of the cases, the hemorrhage from ruptured oesophageal varices has stopped by the time emergency endoscopy is performed, but its severity mainly depends on its early recurrence. Haemostatic treatments are justified only in the presence of an active haemorrhage. The best method seems to be endoscopic variceal sclerotherapy carried out in a specialized centre by a centre by a trained endoscopist. The other methods should be used only when sclerotherapy has failed. The prevention of recurrences (secondary prophylaxis) mainly rests on the eradication of varices by endoscopic sclerosis. The addition of propranolol to treatment is probably useful. The seriousness of haemorrhages due to rupture of oesophageal varices justifies primary prophylaxis in patients with large varices found at endoscopy. At present, nonselective beta-blockers constitute the best method of primary prophylaxis. In about 1 out of 5 cases, haemorrhages in cirrhotic patients are due to a different lesion, such as ruptured gastric varices or gastric disease due to portal hypertension. The treatment of haemorrhages causes by these lesions has not been clearly defined, but surgical haemostasis is sometimes indicated in case of ruptures gastric varices.