Feasibility and potential benefit of maintenance endoscopic variceal ligation in patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma and acute esophageal variceal hemorrhage: a controlled trial

Gastrointest Endosc. 2001 Jul;54(1):18-23. doi: 10.1067/mge.2001.115731.


Background: Patients with unresectable hepatoma and acute esophageal variceal bleeding have extremely high rates of recurrent bleeding and mortality. This controlled study evaluates the feasibility and potential benefit of maintenance endoscopic variceal ligation in these patients.

Methods: Patients with unresectable hepatoma and acute esophageal variceal bleeding underwent emergent endoscopic variceal ligation. After hemostasis, patients were randomized to undergo maintenance or esophageal variceal ligation (EVL) as necessary (demand ligation).

Results: Fifty-four patients underwent maintenance EVL and 55 demanded EVL. One or more subsequent EVL session could be performed in only 30 patients (55.6%) in the maintenance group (actual maintenance ligation). Logistic regression analysis found that hepatic function determines the feasibility of maintenance ligation (Child-Pugh's A+B vs. C, OR 23.00: 95% CI [5.26, 100.66]). The survival and recurrent bleeding rates were similar in both groups. A subgroup analysis of patients with Child-Pugh's A and B hepatic reserve in both the maintenance EVL group (n = 24) and demand EVL group (n = 25) was performed to assess the potential benefit of maintenance ligation. Maintenance ligation reduced the rate of recurrent bleeding compared with demand ligation (p = 0.043). Cox regression showed that portal vein thrombosis and tumors in both hepatic lobes were also factors together with EVL that determined recurrence of bleeding. Survival was similar in both groups.

Conclusions: Maintenance ligation is feasible in patients with unresectable hepatoma and variceal hemorrhage if they have a good hepatic reserve. Maintenance ligation might lower the rate of recurrent bleeding in this subgroup of patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / complications
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery*
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / etiology
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / mortality
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / surgery*
  • Esophagoscopy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / mortality
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Ligation
  • Liver Neoplasms / complications
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care
  • Recurrence
  • Survival Rate