Background and purpose: Elective esophageal variceal ligation (EVL) is performed to decrease the risk of variceal hemorrhage. EVL is associated with adverse effects, including post-ligated bleeding, chest pain, and dysphagia. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are the most potent pharmacological agents for inhibition of gastric acid secretion. However, the long-term effect of PPIs after EVL remains unclear. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of rabeprazole, a PPI, after variceal eradication by EVL.
Methods: We performed a randomized, controlled trial in Kitasato University East Hospital. The primary endpoint was treatment failure, defined as variceal hemorrhage or severe medical complications. Between July 2007 and September 2010, 43 patients were randomized into this study and followed up until September 2010.
Results: Twenty-one patients in the rabeprazole arm received 10 mg rabeprazole daily after EVL, and 22 patients in the control received no antisecretory treatment from the same stage. Baseline characteristics did not differ between the groups (median Child-Pugh score, 6; median age, 62 years; median follow-up, 18.7 months). The trial was stopped early after an interim analysis showed that the risk of bleeding and failure of rabeprazole treatment was lower than that of no antisecretory treatment with the log-rank test showing a significant difference between the groups (P = 0.007) and a hazard ratio of 0.098 [95% confidence interval, 0.012-0.79 (P = 0.029)].
Conclusions: Long-term administration of PPIs reduced the risk of treatment failure after EVL. Acid suppression therapy should also be considered as a treatment option after EVL.