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Endoscopic variceal ligation vs. propranolol for prevention of first variceal bleeding: a randomized controlled trial.

Author(s): Psilopoulos D, Galanis P, Goulas S, Papanikolaou IS, Elefsiniotis I, Liatsos C, Sparos L, Mavrogiannis C

Affiliation(s): Academic Department of Gastroenterology, Helena Venizelou General Hospital, Faculty of Nursing, Athens University, Athens, Greece.

Publication date & source: 2005-10, Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol., 17(10):1111-7.

OBJECTIVES: Data in the literature regarding the role of endoscopic variceal ligation for the prevention of first variceal bleeding in cirrhotic patients are controversial. To further explore this issue we have compared ligation and propranolol treatment in a prospective randomized study. METHODS: Sixty patients with cirrhosis and oesophageal varices with no history but at high risk of bleeding were randomized to ligation treatment (30 patients) or propranolol (30 patients). Patients were followed for approximately 27.5 months. RESULTS: Variceal obliteration was achieved in 28 patients (93.3%) after 3+/-1 sessions. The mean daily dose of propranolol was 60.3+/-13.3 mg. Two patients (6.7%) in the ligation group and nine patients (30%) in the propranolol group developed variceal bleeding (P = 0.043). The actuarial risks of variceal bleeding at 2 years were 6.7% and 25%, respectively. On multivariate analysis, propranolol treatment and grade III varices turned out to be predictive factors for the risk of variceal bleeding. Mortality was not different between the two groups. There were no serious complications due to ligation. Propranolol treatment was discontinued in four patients because of side effects. CONCLUSIONS: Variceal ligation is a safe and more effective method than propranolol treatment for the prevention of first variceal bleeding in cirrhotic patients with high-risk varices.

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