Endoscopic ligation of esophageal varices: An endoscopist's opinion



One hundred consecutive patients with bleeding esophageal varices were treated with a new endoscopic ligating device that effects strangulation of varices using small elastic “O” rings. Treatments were continued after initial hospitalization to achieve variceal eradication. Follow-up ranged from 6 to 26 (mean: 15) months. Bleeding was controlled until discharge from hospital or death in 18 of 21 patients who were actively bleeding at index endoscopy. Overall, 26 patients died during the study, 12 during the index hospitalization. Cause of death was organ failure in 21, exsanguination in 3, and cancer in 2. Forty-one of 88 initial survivors experienced 72 episodes of recurrent bleeding (1 to 4 per patient). All but five rebleeds occurred before eradication. Sixty of 88 patients (68%) who survived index hospitalization had their varices eradicated. A median of 5 (1 to 12) treatments was required. Nine patients eventually had other forms of treatment for recurrent bleeding. Only 3 non-bleeding complications resulted from 462 endoscopic treatment sessions. We conclude that endoscopic ligation controls active variceal bleeding and eradicates varices with efficacy similar to that of sclerotherapy and with minimal risk of complications.