Esophagus

Esophageal Varices

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Esophageal Varices, Variceal Bleeding, Bleeding Esophageal Varices

  • Epidemiology
  1. Incidence: 30-70% of Cirrhosis cases
  2. Bleeding occurs within first year of Esophageal Varices diagnosis in 30% of cases
  • Pathophysiology
  1. See Portal Hypertension
  2. Complication of Cirrhosis (and Portal Hypertension)
    1. Typically involves distal 2-5 cm of esophagus
    2. Correlated with severity of disease
  • Evaluation
  • Screening Protocol
  1. Initial: Endoscopy for all patients with Cirrhosis
  2. Repeat screening
    1. No Varices: Repeat every 3 years
    2. Small Varices: Yearly
    3. Large Varices: Per endoscopist discretion
  • Management
  • Acute Variceal Bleeding Medical Management
  1. See Gastrointestinal Bleeding Management
  2. Notify GI or surgery on presentation, to ready for emergent endoscopy
  3. See Upper GI Bleed
    1. Proton Pump Inhibitors are not recommended for Variceal Bleeding
  4. ABC Management
    1. Consider Endotracheal Intubation to prevent blood aspiration
  5. Replace blood and Coagulation Factors as needed
    1. Restrictive transfusion strategy is preferred (keeping Hemoglobin >7 g/dl) at tertiary centers
      1. However, remote hospitals should initiate blood pruducts per local discretion
    2. Packed Red Blood Cells
    3. Fresh Frozen Plasma
    4. Vitamin K
    5. Platelet Trasfusion
  6. Upper Endoscopy emergently (within 12 hours)
    1. See below under invasive management
  7. Vasoactive agents
    1. Do not decrease mortality or re-bleeding risk
      1. Gotzsche (2008) Cochrane Database Syst Rev (3): CD000193 [PubMed]
    2. Octreotide or Sandostatin (preferred)
      1. Decreases splanchnic blood flow (slows Variceal Bleeding)
      2. Dose: 50-100 mcg IV bolus, then 50 mcg/hour
      3. Long-acting somatostatin analog
      4. Preferred vasoactive agent in Upper GI Bleed
        1. Avgerinos (1995) J Hepatol 22(2):247-8 [PubMed]
    3. Intravenous Vasopressin
      1. Used with Nitroglycerin (Risk of coronary ischemia)
      2. Stop for cerebral, cardiac, intestinal or extremity ischemia
  8. Non-selective Beta Blocker
    1. Examples: Propranolol, Nadalol, Timolol
    2. Start and continue indefinately (see dosing below under prevention)
    3. Titration of dose endpoint
      1. Heart Rate at 25% reduction from baseline or
      2. Heart Rate 55 beats per minute or
      3. Adverse Beta Blocker related symptoms
  9. Prophylactic Antibiotics (per AASLD)
    1. Reduces rebleeding, Spontaneous Bacterial Peritonitis (SBP), and mortality rates
    2. Higher infection risk in Child-Pugh Class B-C, longterm Proton Pump Inhibitor, SBP Prophylaxis
    3. Start at bleeding presentation and continue for up to 5-7 days
    4. First-Line antibiotic options
      1. Norfloxacin 400 mg orally twice daily OR
      2. Ciprofloxacin 400 mg IV (or 500 mg orally twice daily) every 8 to 12 hours
    5. Alternative antibiotic options
      1. Ceftriaxone 2 gram IV every 24 hours
    6. References
      1. Moon (2016) Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 14:1629-37 +PMID:27311621 [PubMed]
      2. O'Leary (2015) Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 13:753-9 +PMID:25130937 [PubMed]
  10. Balloon Tamponade
    1. See Esophageal Balloon Tamponade (Sengstaken-Blakemore Tube, Linton Tube)
    2. Tamponade Varices in refractory cases (60-90% effective)
      1. Esophageal Varices
      2. Gastric fundus Varices
    3. Rebleeding occurs in up to 50% of cases
      1. More definitive therapy needed after bleeding stops
    4. High complication rate (15%)
      1. Perforation
      2. Aspiration
      3. Pressure-induced ulceration
    5. Balloon types
      1. Sengstaken-Blakemore Tube
      2. Linton-Nachlas tube
      3. Minnesota tube
  • Management
  • Acute Variceal Bleeding Invasive Management
  1. Endoscopic ligation or banding (preferred, first-line measure)
    1. Ligation is superior to sclerotherapy
      1. Laine (1995) Ann Intern Med 123(4): 280-7 [PubMed]
    2. Successful banding
      1. Repeat endoscopy at 3 and 6 months and annually
      2. Banding may be repeated at repeat endoscopy
    3. Unsuccessful banding (continued bleeding)
      1. Balloon Tamponade (see above) and
      2. TIPS and other interventions as below
  2. Transjugular intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt (TIPS)
    1. Shunt from hepatic vein to intrahepatic Portal Vein to lower portal pressure
    2. Commonly effective measure in Variceal Bleeding
    3. Preventive of future rebleeding events
  3. Emergency Surgical portacaval shunts
    1. Rarely effective and high mortality rate
  • Management
  • Primary Prevention of Variceal Bleeding
  1. See Portal Hypertension
  2. Indications
    1. Hepatic Vein Pressure Gradient (HPVG) >5 mmHg
    2. Endoscopic criteria
      1. Large Esophageal Varices
      2. Small Esophageal Varices
        1. High Child-Pugh Score
        2. Varices with red wale markings
  3. Efficacy
    1. Reduce risk of bleeding from 45% to 22%
    2. Do not reduce overall mortality from Esophageal Varices
  4. Mechanism
    1. Reduce portal pressure gradient
    2. Reduce azygous blood flow and variceal pressure
  5. Agents (target Heart Rate reduction 20 to 25%)
    1. Goal: Reduce HPVG by 20% or <12 mmHg
    2. Propranolol (preferred first line agent)
      1. Start at 10 mg PO tid
      2. Minimum effective dose: 40 mg PO bid
      3. Titrate to 80 mg PO bid if needed
    3. Nadolol 20 mg PO qd
    4. Isosorbide Mononitrate (alternative)
      1. Use if Propranolol contraindicated
      2. Dose: 20 mg PO bid
  6. Surgery: Esophageal banding (Variceal band ligation)
    1. As effective as Propranolol in bleeding prevention
    2. Fewer adverse effects than medication management
    3. Lui (2002) Gastroenterology 123:735-44 [PubMed]
  • Prevention
  • Secondary prevention (prior episode of bleeding)
  1. Isosorbide Mononitrate 20 mg PO bid
  2. Esophageal banding (Variceal band ligation)
  3. Sclerotherapy to Varices (variable efficacy)
  4. Transjugular intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt (TIPS)
  5. LeVeen Shunt (not recommended due to high mortality)
  6. Liver Transplant
  • Prognosis
  1. Predictors of mortality with Variceal Bleeding
    1. Active bleeding during endoscopy
    2. Encephalopathy
    3. Ascites
    4. Serum Bilirubin increased
    5. Aspartate Aminotransferase increased
    6. Prothrombin Time increased
    7. Graham (1981) Gastroenterology 80:800-9 [PubMed]
  2. Rebleeding Events after initial bleeding episode
    1. Highest risk in first 72 hours
    2. Rebleeding risk is 50% in first 10 days
    3. Risks for re-bleeding
      1. Age over 60 years
      2. Renal Failure
      3. Large Esophageal Varices
      4. Severe initial bleeding with Hemoglobin < 8 g/dl
  3. Overall Risk of esophageal varice bleeding: 10-30%/year
  4. Risk of bleeding from large Varices: 40 to 45% per year
    1. Higher risk with Varices with red wale markings
    2. Higher risk with advanced Child-Pugh Score
  5. Risk of death from each bleeding episode
    1. In hospital event: 15%
    2. Out of hospital event: Approaches 50%
  • References
  1. Spangler, Swadron, Mason and Herbert (2016) EM:Rap C3, p. 1-11
  2. Swencki (2015) Crit Dec Emerg Med 29(11):2-10
  3. Hegab (2001) Postgrad Med 109(2):75-89 [PubMed]
  4. Villaneuva (1996) 334:1624-9 [PubMed]
  5. De Franchis (2004) Gastroenterology 126:1860-7 [PubMed]