Background Variable methods are available for secondary prevention after oesophageal variceal bleeding (EVB).
Aim To compare band ligation (BL), pharmacotherapy (PT) and BL+PT for EVB secondary prevention.
Methods A systematic search of databases, references and meeting abstracts was conducted for randomized trials of BL, PT or BL+PT. The outcomes were mortality, rebleeding and adverse events. A random-effects model was used for meta-analyses.
Results Twelve trials were included (6 BL vs. PT, 4 BL+PT vs. BL, 2 BL+PT vs. PT). All trials used beta-blockers ± isosorbide mononitrate (ISMN) as PT. Mortality was not significantly different among trials. Rebleeding was not significantly different for BL vs. PT (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.73–1.37). BL reduced rebleeding compared with PT for trials with mean beta-blocker dose <80 mg/day (RR 0.67, 95% CI 0.49–0.91). There were nonsignificant differences in rebleeding for BL+PT vs. BL (RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.31–1.08) and BL+PT vs. PT (RR 0.76, 95% CI 0.56–1.03). There was no difference in adverse events between BL vs. PT, but was higher with BL+PT vs. BL.
Conclusion Band ligation and PT alone are comparable for secondary prevention of rebleeding after EVB. Further trials with adequate PT dosing are required to determine the efficacy of combination BL+PT therapy.