Background & aim: We analysed prognostic indicators of long-term outcome in cirrhotic patients surviving the critical 6-week period after an episode of acute variceal bleeding.
Methods: All patients with oesophageal variceal bleeding from 2001–2007 were prospectively registered. Follow-up extended from day 42 after index bleeding to last visit, death or liver transplantation (LT). Multivariate Cox regression analysis was performed.
Results: Two hundred and fifty variceal bleeding episodes were registered. Fifty-four patients (26%) died before day 42, and 123 patients were finally included. Median follow-up was 23.5 months. Nadolol±nitrates alone or combined with variceal ligation were used as prophylaxis in 93% of patients. During follow-up, 43 patients (35%) experienced rebleeding, 34 (27.5%) died and 10 (8%) were transplanted. Follow-up β-blocker dose (HR 0.993, 95% CI 0.987–0.998, P=0.027) and alcohol abstinence (HR 0.324, 95% CI 0.152–0.691, P=0.004) were independent rebleeding predictors. The Cox analysis disclosed the Child–Pugh score (HR 1.24, 95% CI 1.08–1.43, P=0.002), creatinine (HR 1.82, 95% CI 1.17–2.82, P=0.008), β-blocker dose (HR 0.992, 95% CI 0.987–0.997, P=0.003), viral cirrhosis (HR 2.72, 95% CI 1.31–5.67, P=0.008), hepatocellular carcinoma (HR 9.44, 95% CI 3.54–25.20, P<0.001) and alcohol abstinence (HR 0.29, 95% CI 0.13–0.62, P=0.002) to be independent prognostic markers for mortality/LT.
Conclusion: High doses of β-blockers and alcohol abstinence decrease rebleeding and mortality in cirrhotic patients surviving the 6-week period after acute variceal bleeding.