Experience with endoscopic management of high-risk gastroesophageal varices, with and without bleeding, in children with biliary atresia

Gastroenterology. 2013 Oct;145(4):801-7. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.06.022. Epub 2013 Jun 19.


Background & aims: Biliary atresia, the most common cause of childhood cirrhosis, increases the risks for portal hypertension and gastrointestinal bleeding. We report the results from a single-center study of primary and secondary prophylaxis of bleeding in children with portal hypertension and high-risk varices.

Methods: We collected data from 66 children with major endoscopic signs of portal hypertension, including grade 3 esophageal varices or grade 2 varices with red wale markings and/or gastric varices, treated consecutively from February 2001 through May 2011. Thirty-six children (mean age, 22 mo) underwent primary prophylaxis (sclerotherapy and/or banding, depending on age and weight). Thirty children (mean age, 24 mo) who presented with gastrointestinal bleeding received endoscopic treatment to prevent a relapse of bleeding (secondary prophylaxis).

Results: In the primary prophylaxis group, a mean number of 4.2 sessions were needed to eradicate varices; no bleeding from gastroesophageal varices was observed after eradication. Varices reappeared in 37% of children, and 97% survived for 3 years. In the secondary prophylaxis group, a mean number of 4.6 sessions was needed to eradicate varices. Varices reappeared in 45%, and 10% had breakthrough bleeding; 84% survived for 3 years. There were no or only minor complications of either form of prophylaxis.

Conclusions: Endoscopic therapy as primary or secondary prophylaxis of bleeding appears to be well tolerated and greatly reduces the risk of variceal bleeding in children with biliary atresia and high-risk gastroesophageal varices. However, there is a risk that varices will recur, therefore continued endoscopic surveillance is needed.

Keywords: GI; Infants; Liver Disease; Octreotide Therapy; Portal Pressure; gastrointestinal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biliary Atresia / complications*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal / methods*
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / surgery*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Sclerotherapy