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Abstract

This paper reports the incidence and natural history of macroscopic gastritis in a series of 127 consecutive patients with portal hypertension of various aetiologies. Gastritis was observed endoscopically in 65 patients (51%) and was of two main types. Twenty eight patients had severe or persistent gastritis which caused clinically significant bleeding on 80 occasions and accounted for 25% of the bleeds from all sources. The remainder had mild gastritis. The presence of gastritis seemed to be independent of the severity of liver disease or the degree of rise of wedged hepatic venous pressure and there was no difference in age, sex, or drugs prescribed in patients with or without gastritis. The mean follow up period and the mean number of sclerotherapy treatments was significantly greater (p<0.005) in patients with gastritis. Full thickness gastric biopsies in seven surgical patients and 11 autopsy specimens showed dilated and tortuous submucosal veins. Endoscopic biopsies in 14 patients showed vascular ectasia in the mucosal layer which was in excess of the degree of inflammatory infiltrate. Gastritis occurred in patients with portal hypertension of all common aetiologies and the clinical and pathological evidence supports the contention that it reflects a congested gastric mucosa and should be renamed congestive gastropathy. As injection sclerotherapy improves survival from variceal bleeding congestive gastropathy may become more common. The response to conventional (‘anti-erosive’) therapy is poor and measures aimed at reducing the gastric portal pressure may be the only effective means of treating this condition.