Objective: Existing literature indicates that the mortality rate with each variceal bleeding episode is 30-50%. Over the past 2 decades, there have been significant developments in the management of variceal bleeding. The effect of these developments on the natural history of variceal bleeding is unclear. Therefore, a retrospective, multicenter study was conducted to define the outcomes of variceal bleeding and to describe the patterns of current practice in the management of variceal bleeding.
Methods: All patients with documented variceal bleeding hospitalized at four large county hospitals from January 1, 1997, to June 30, 2000, were included. Study outcomes were in-hospital, 6-wk, and overall mortality, rate of rebleeding, transfusion requirement, and length of stay. After discharge, patients were followed until death or study closure date, on June 30, 2000.
Results: A total of 231 subjects were included, and their in-hospital, 6-wk, and overall mortality rates were 14.2%, 17.5%, and 33.5%, respectively. The frequency of rebleeding during follow-up was 29%. Median length of total hospital stay was 8 days (0-34 days). Median number of packed red cell units transfused was 4 U (0-60 U). Upper endoscopy was performed in 95% of patients within 24 h, and endoscopic therapy was done in all but eight patients (ligation 64%, sclerotherapy 33%). Octreotide was administered in 74% of the patients. Portasystemic shunts were performed in 7.5% of the patients for controlling acute variceal bleeding.
Conclusions: The mortality rate after variceal bleeding in this study was substantially lower than previously reported. This suggests that advances made in the management of variceal bleeding have improved outcomes after variceal bleeding.