Background: The rupture of gastric varices is associated with high mortality rate. Balloon-occluded retrograde transvenous obliteration (B-RTO), a minimally invasive procedure that was introduced in the mid-1990s, has been widely accepted in Japan. Several reports have indicated that B-RTO yields satisfactory results; however, few reports have discussed the recurrence of gastric varices after this therapy. The purpose of this study is to retrospectively evaluate the technical aspects of B-RTO and the recurrence of gastric varices after treatment with this procedure.
Methods: B-RTO was performed in 47 patients with gastric varices, who were at a risk of variceal ruptures and who may or may not have had a history of variceal bleeding. We injected a sclerosing agent into the gastric varices for 30-60 minutes. To evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of the technique, we obtained contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) scans 5 days after B-RTO. As a general rule, if the gastric varices did not appear thrombosed, we repeated the procedure 7 days after the first procedure.
Results: B-RTO was a technical success in 37 patients. It was performed once in 26 patients, twice in 6 patients, thrice in 2 patients, and 4 times in 3 patients. Contrast-enhanced CT scans obtained after B-RTO showed thrombosed gastrorenal shunts in 29 patients and patent gastrorenal shunts in 8 patients. The gastric varices recurred in 2 patients who had patent gastrorenal shunts. The overall cumulative relapse-free rate of gastric varices was 90% at 5 years after B-RTO.
Conclusions: B-RTO is an effective treatment modality for gastric varices. Moreover, obliteration of the gastrorenal shunt as well as the gastric varices appears to be important for the treatment of gastric varices.