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Equal efficacy of endoscopic variceal ligation and propranolol in preventing variceal bleeding in patients with noncirrhotic portal hypertension.

Author(s): Sarin SK, Gupta N, Jha SK, Agrawal A, Mishra SR, Sharma BC, Kumar A

Affiliation(s): Department of Hepatology, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, New Delhi, India. shivsarin@gmail.com

Publication date & source: 2010-10, Gastroenterology., 139(4):1238-45. Epub 2010 Jun 12.

Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Variceal bleeding increases morbidity and mortality among patients with noncirrhotic portal hypertension (NCPH). Blockers of beta-adrenergic receptor signaling and endoscopic variceal ligation (EVL) have been used to prevent recurrence of bleeding, based on data from cirrhotic patients. We compared the efficacy and safety of the beta-blocker propranolol with that of EVL in preventing the recurrence of variceal bleeding in patients with NCPH. METHODS: Consecutive patients with NCPH with a history of variceal bleeding in the past 6 weeks were assigned randomly to groups treated every 3 weeks with EVL (n = 51) or propranolol (until they had a resting heart rate of 55 beats per minute or to a maximum of 320 mg/day; n = 50). Primary end points were recurrence of variceal bleeding or death. Secondary end points were complications of EVL in patients given EVL, variceal eradication after EVL, variceal recurrence after EVL, or a decrease in variceal grade in patients given propranolol. RESULTS: After a median follow-up period of 23 months, rates of recurrence of bleeding were similar between the groups (EVL, 23.5%; propranolol, 18%; P = .625). The actuarial probability of remaining free of bleeding recurrence was similar between the groups. No deaths occurred in either group. Of the patients given propranolol, 47% had a decrease in the grade of varices and none experienced bleeding. Adverse events were minor and comparable between groups (EVL, 12%; propranolol, 18%; P = .635). CONCLUSIONS: EVL was not more effective than the beta-blocker propranolol for the secondary prophylaxis of variceal bleeding in patients with NCPH. Copyright (c) 2010 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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