Short- and long-term outcomes for patients with variceal haemorrhage in a tertiary hospital

Intern Med J. 2013 Mar;43(3):234-9. doi: 10.1111/imj.12037.


Background/aim: To determine short- and long-term outcomes among a cohort of patients with variceal haemorrhage at a tertiary referral centre, and to determine the predictive value of the model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score for mortality in these patients.

Methods: Prospective database hospital audit that captured patients who presented with or were transferred with variceal haemorrhage between 2004 and 2008, and a retrospective review of long-term outcomes. Patients who presented to or were transferred to John Hunter Hospital, a tertiary referral hospital, with confirmed variceal bleeding were included. The main outcome measures were in-hospital, 6 weeks and end-of-audit mortality. We also recorded cause, location and degree of planning surrounding the deaths in this patient group. We analysed the MELD score for patients with complete survival data.

Results: We recorded 93 episodes of variceal haemorrhage from 78 unique patients during the initial study period. The in-hospital mortality, 6 weeks mortality and end-of-audit mortality were 2.6, 9.0 and 59, respectively, and median survival time was 3.2 years (95% confidence interval 0.0, 6.1). The most frequent cause of death was related to complications of end-stage liver disease at 74%, followed by variceal bleeding (19%) and unknown (6%). A Cox proportional hazard model showed that the risk of mortality is increased by 1.06 (1.01-1.11) for each unit increase in MELD score.

Conclusions: Short-term outcomes for patients with variceal bleeding continue to improve, but long-term prognosis remains guarded and should prompt further emphasis on advanced care planning to optimise patient care.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / diagnosis*
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / epidemiology*
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / therapy
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / diagnosis*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / epidemiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tertiary Care Centers / trends*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult