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Abstract

β-Blockers and sclerotherapy prevent long-term upper digestive rebleeding in cirrhosis but they seem ineffective for early rebleeding. We compared octreotide with a placebo for the prevention of early rebleeding in cirrhotic patients. After control of acute upper digestive bleeding, 262 consecutive cirrhotic patients were randomized to octreotide 100 μg subcutaneously three times a day for 15 days (n = 131) or to the placebo (n = 131), in a double blind pragmatic trial in which β-blockers and/or sclerotherapy were allowed together with the experimental treatment. Separate randomization and analysis were performed according to whether patients were eligible for β-blockers and/or sclerotherapy (101 placebo, 97 octreotide) or not (30 placebo, 34 octreotide). Rebleeding within 15 days was the primary measure of treatment efficacy; 6-week rebleeding rate was also assessed as a secondary measure. Fifteen-day cumulative proportions of patients rebleeding were 28% in the placebo group and 24% in the octreotide group (P = .40); corresponding figures among the 198 patients eligible to β-blockers and/or sclerotherapy were 26% and 16% (P = .05) and among the 64 not eligible for these treatments 33% and 49% (P = .29). Among patients eligible to β-blockers and/or sclerotherapy, a significant reduction of rebleeding episodes (35 vs. 18, P = .03), blood transfusions (75 vs. 50, P = .04), and days of stay in hospital (1,544 vs. 1,190, P = .0001) was also found in the octreotide group: this beneficial effect was confirmed 6 weeks after randomization. Mortality was not affected by octreotide in either group of patients. It is suggested that octreotide may reduce the risk of early rebleeding in cirrhotic patients treated with β-blockers and/or sclerotherapy after control of acute upper digestive bleeding. Further studies are needed to confirm this result.