Saturday, July 9, 2011

Treatment of Esophageal varices


In emergency situations, the care is directed at stopping blood loss, maintaining plasma volume, correcting disorders in coagulation induced by cirrhosis, and appropriate use of antibiotics (usually a quinolone or ceftriaxone, as infection by gram-negative strains is either concomitant, or a precipitant).

Blood volume resuscitation should be done promptly and with caution. Goal should be hemodynamic stability and hemoglobin of over 8. Resuscitation of all lost blood leads to increase in portal pressure leading to more bleeding. Volume resuscitation can also worsen ascites and increase portal pressure. (AASLD guildlines)

Therapeutic endoscopy is considered the mainstay of urgent treatment. Two main therapeutic approaches exist:

  1. Variceal ligation, or banding
  2. Sclerotherapy

In cases of refractory bleeding, balloon tamponade with Sengstaken-Blakemore tube may be necessary, usually as a bridge to further endoscopy or treatment of the underlying cause of bleeding (usually portal hypertension). Methods of treating the portal hypertension include: transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS), or a distal splenorenal shunt procedure or a liver transplantation.
Nutritional supplementation is not necessary if the patient is not eating for four days or less.
Terlipressin and octreotide (50mcg bolus IV followed by 25-50mcg/h IVF for 1 to 5 days) have also been used.

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