The effect of terlipressin (N-α-triglycyl-8-lysinevasopressin) in bleeding esophageal varices was evaluated in a prospective placebo-controlled study. Fifty bleeding episodes from esophagealvarices in 34 patients were randomized. Standard therapy with transfusions, fluid and electrolyte correction, and lactulose was performed in both groups. Balloon tamponade was used in 20 bleeding episodes in the terlipressin group and in 19 bleeding episodes in the control group.
In the terlipressin group, hemorrhage was controlled in all bleeding episodes (25/25) whereas in the placebo group, only 20 of 25 bleeding episodes could be stopped within 36 hr (p < 0.05). Sclerotherapy was performed in five bleeding episodes in the terlipressin group and in seven bleeding episodes in the placebo group. Treatment failures, including patients who required sclerotherapy, occurred in five bleedings in the terlipressin group and in 12 in the control group (p < 0.05). The hospital mortality rate was 12% (3/25) in the terlipressin group and 32% (8/25) in the control group. Patients in the terlipressin group required fewer transfusions, the balloon needed to be inflated for a shorter time and theduration of bleeding was shorter than in the control group. However, these differences were not significant.
These data do not allow conclusions concerning monotherapy with terlipressin, but they indicate that the addition of terlipressin to standard therapy may increase the control rate in acute variceal hemorrhage.