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Keywords:

  • Endoscopic sclerotherapy;
  • gastric varices;
  • portal hypertension

Abstract

Of 309 patients with portal hypertension, gastric varices were found in 48 (16 per cent). While the majority (88 per cent) of the patients had gastric varices in association with oesophageal varices, 6 (12 per cent) patients had ‘isolated’ gastric varices. Gastric varices were seen significantly (P < 0.01) more often with grade 4 than with grade 3 varices. In 11 (28 per cent) of the 40 patients who completed sclerotherapy for oesophageal varices, gastric varices disappeared concurrently on eradication of oesophageal varices or during the following 6 months. Of the initial five patients with gastric varices who received direct intravariceal injections, four rebled; this technique was therefore replaced by combination (paravariceal + intravariceal) gastric variceal sclerotherapy. Emergency combination sclerotherapy successfully controlled bleeding from gastric varices in six of the eight treated patients. Thirty-two patients entered a programme of elective combination gastric variceal sclerotherapy. Variceal obliteration was achieved in 12 cases (38 per cent) and reduction in size was noted in another 7 patients (22 per cent) after a minimum of four courses. There were 11 (23 per cent) deaths, 8 due to uncontrolled bleeding from gastric varices and 3 due to hepatic coma. The other complications of gastric variceal sclerotherapy were minor and included retrosternal pain, fever and dysphagia. It is concluded that gastric varices often coexist with large oesophageal varices. If they persist for 6 months after eradication of oesophageal varices, a combination of paravariceal and intravariceal sclerotherapy should be attempted for their obliteration.