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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 10  |  Page : 573-579

Primary prevention of variceal bleeding: Pharmacological therapy versus endoscopic banding

1 Department of Medicine, Brockton Hospital, Brockton, USA
2 Division of Gastroenterology, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Zeid Karadsheh
257 Northampton Street, Unit 507, Boston, MA 02118
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1947-2714.120791

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Variceal bleeding is one of the most feared complications in patients with liver cirrhosis. It continues to be a leading cause of death among patients with liver cirrhosis. Although its prognosis has improved over the last several decades, it still carries substantial mortality. Preventing variceal bleeding has been extensively studied and evaluated in several studies in the recent years and the comparison between the different modalities available to prevent variceal bleeding has been an area of discussion. Currently the two most widely used modalities to prevent variceal bleeding are pharmacologic (non-selective beta-blockers [NSBB]) and endoscopic (variceal band ligation [VBL]) which have replaced sclerotherapy in the recent years. In addition to NSBB and recent carvedilol, different other medications have been evaluated including isosorbide mononitrates, spironolactone and angiotensin blocking agents. Comparing the outcomes and adverse effects of these two modalities has been evaluated in different studies. Some studies have showed superiority of VBL until recently, when carvedilol has been included, however; overall mortality has been similar in most trials. Despite that, NSBB remain the first line treatment, as they are cheaper and relatively effective in preventing both esophageal and gastric bleeding. The following sections discuss the primary prevention of variceal bleeding with a focus on NSBB, carvedilol and VBL.

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