Background and Aim: Balloon-occluded retrograde transvenous obliteration (B-RTO) is a new alternative treatment for gastric varices (GVx), but the long-term efficacy is not known. We investigated the long-term effects of B-RTO on rebleeding, prevention of first bleeding, mortality and occurrence of risky esophageal varices (EVx).
Methods: B-RTO was performed in 68 cirrhotic patients with GVx. Twenty patients had recent bleeding, transiently treated by endoscopic Histoacryl injection or balloon tamponade. Forty-eight patients had varices likely to bleed, but no bleeding. After B-RTO, the recurrent bleeding, occurrence of EVx and mortality over the long-term were evaluated.
Results: B-RTO was successfully performed in 63 of 68 patients (92.6%). Varices eradication was confirmed by endoscopy in 61 of 63 patients (96.6%). During follow up, GVx bleeding occurred in two patients (3.2%). The 8-year cumulative rebleeding rates of patients with bleeding and risky GVx were 14% and 0%, respectively. Risky EVx occurred in 10 patients (17%) and the cumulative occurrence rate was 22% in 8 years. The cumulative occurrence rate of risky EVx was higher in GVx with EVx (GOV2-GVx) compared to GVx without EVx (IGV1, P < 0.05). No ectopic variceal bleeding occurred. No patients died from variceal bleeding. Hepatocellular carcinoma was the only significant prognostic factor (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: B-RTO is beneficial over the long-term, despite worsening EVx in some patients, because of excellent treatment efficacy and improved mortality. We believe that B-RTO can become a first-choice radical treatment following hemostasis for gastric variceal bleeding and prophylactic treatment for risky GVx.