A prospective randomized trial comparing somatostatin and sclerotherapy in the treatment of acute variceal bleeding


  • This study was presented in part at the 93rd Annual Meeting of the American Gastroenterological Association, San Francisco, California, May 9–15, 1992, and at the Biennial Scientific Meeting of the International Association for the Study of the Liver, Brighton, United Kingdom, June 3–6, 1992


Somatostatin and endoscopic sclerotherapy are widely used in the treatment of acute variceal bleeding. Although objective evidence does exist about the advantages of either treatment, data comparing both procedures are scarce. In order to compare the effectiveness and safety of somatostatin and sclerotherapy in the treatment of acute variceal bleeding, 70 consecutive cirrhotic patients suffering from esophageal variceal hemorrhage and meeting the inclusion criteria were randomly assigned to treatment with somatostatin (35 patients) or sclerotherapy (35 patients). No differences in age, sex, alcohol intake, etiology of cirrhosis and severity of liver failure were found between groups. Failure of treatment (defined as persistence of bleeding despite therapy or subsequent rebleeding within the 48-hr trial period) occurred in seven patients (20%) in the somatostatin group and in six (17.1%) in the sclerotherapy group (NS). Early rebleeding occurred in seven of 28 patients (25%) in the somatostatin group and in five of 29 (17.2%) in the sclerotherapy group (NS). Mortality within the first 6 wk was no different between both groups: 10 (28.5%) and eight (22.8%) in the somatostatin and sclerotherapy groups, respectively. Sclerotherapy, but not somatostatin, was associated with major complications in five cases (14.2%) (p=0.026), two of which resulted in patient's death. These results suggest that somatostatin is safer, and as effective as sclerotherapy, in controlling acute variceal bleeding until an elective treatment can be established. (Hepatology 1994;20:370-375.)