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Abstract

To characterize bleeding from gastric red spots in patients with cirrhosis, three groups of patients were studied: (a) 11 cirrhotic patients bleeding from gastric red spots, (b) 18 nonbleeding cirrhotic patients without gastric red spots, and (c) 13 non-cirrhotic patients with endoscopic normal mucosa (controls). Histologic examination of antral biopsy specimens revealed a diffuse capillary ectasia without inflammation in 8 of the 11 cirrhotic patients with gastric lesions. Morphometric analysis disclosed a significantly greater mean mucosal capillary cross-sectional area in cirrhotic patients with gastric lesions (mean ± SE, 1371 ± 320 μm2) than in those without gastric lesions (541 ± 61 μm2) (p < 0.005) or controls (353 ± 20 μm2) (p < 0.001). Hypergastrinemia was detected in 8 of the 11 cirrhotic patients with lesions, in 2 of the 18 cirrhotic patients without gastric lesions, and in none of the controls (p < 0.001). Gastrin serum levels correlated significantly (r = 0.80) with mean mucosal capillary cross-sectional area in patients with cirrhosis. Pepsinogen I serum levels below 20 ng/ml were observed in 7 of the 11 cirrhotic patients with lesions, in 1 of the 18 cirrhotic patients without lesions, and in none of the controls. These data indicate that bleeding from gastric red spots in patients with cirrhosis is a distinct entity characterized by vascular ectasia of the gastric mucosa. This condition seems to be associated with hypergastrinemia and low serum levels of pepsinogen I.