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Keywords:

  • band ligation;
  • carvedilol;
  • cirrhosis;
  • propranolol;
  • variceal bleeding

Abstract

Abstract

There are many studies investigating the role of non-selective beta-blockers in portal hypertension. Satisfactory reduction in portal pressure is possible in a third to half of patients with propranolol and nadolol, although combining these drugs with nitrates may be more effective. Carvedilol is a more potent agent than propranolol in reducing portal pressure, particularly in non-responders, and is better tolerated. All these drugs have been studied in primary and secondary prophylaxis, sometimes in combination with band ligation and/or nitrates. There is some evidence to support combining these agents with band ligation, despite a lack of survival benefit and increased adverse events. Hemodynamic monitoring can help select non-responders who may benefit from additional therapies such as band ligation, as lack of response is associated with worse outcomes. Propranolol should be used with caution in patients with refractory ascites, although the current evidence is not of sufficient quality to justify not using these drugs in such situations. Beta-blockers have been shown to reduce bacterial translocation and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in cirrhosis.