Introduction: Cirrhosis is an important medical and public health concern. A paucity of data exists on how patients with cirrhosis are managed. Our aims were to determine how cirrhosis is managed and whether current management practices follow established recommendations.
Methods: A questionnaire was mailed to Southern California Society of Gastroenterology members. Most had practiced for more than 15 years (67%) in a private practice setting (69%). Proportions of physicians who followed established guidelines versus those who had not were compared using chi test.
Results: Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, and pneumococcus vaccinations were recommended by most respondents. Ninety-one percent of respondents routinely screened patients for hepatocellular carcinoma. A significantly greater proportion of respondents screened for hepatocellular carcinoma using either alpha-fetoprotein or ultrasound every 6 months (P < 0.05). Seventy-six percent recommended antibiotic prophylaxis in patients with prior spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, whereas less than half recommended prophylaxis in patients with ascitic protein fluid <1 g/dL, current variceal bleed, and those on the liver transplant list. Sixty-seven percent of respondents performed screening esophagogastroduodenoscopy upon diagnosis of cirrhosis. Most respondents did not recommend repeating endoscopy in 1 to 2 years if a patient was found to have small varices (P < 0.05), and would repeat an endoscopy if large varices were found (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: The management of patients with cirrhosis in the community varied and did not always conform to established guidelines. These results should be confirmed in a larger group of physicians, and the rationales for physicians accepting or rejecting established guidelines should be further assessed.