Background: Endoscopic variceal ligation (EVL) is effective in preventing esophageal variceal rebleeding. However, the optimal EVL interval remains unclear.
Aim: To investigate the effectiveness and safety of EVL using two intersession intervals. methods: From January 2009 to October 2012, 214 patients with acute esophageal variceal bleeding were screened. Emergency ligation was performed for patients with acute variceal bleeding. After achieving hemodynamic stability, eligible patients (n = 70) were randomized to either the monthly group or the biweekly group.
Results: Median time from randomization to variceal obliteration was 2.7 months in the monthly group and 1.7 months in the biweekly group, at a mean of 2.3 ± 2.0 and 3.0 ± 1.8 sessions, respectively. After a median follow up of 23 months, six patients (17%) in the monthly group and nine patients (26%) in the biweekly group developed upper gastrointestinal rebleeding (P = 0.382). Esophageal variceal rebleeding occurred in six patients (17%) in the monthly group and in seven patients (20%) in the biweekly group (P = 0.759). No rebleeding from EVL ulcers occurred in the monthly group and was 5.7% (n = 2) for the biweekly group. Both treatment groups had similar rates of esophageal variceal recurrence and mortality. Notably, the incidence of post-EVL ulcers in the monthly group was lower than that in the biweekly group (11% vs 57%, P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Patients receiving EVL monthly had similar rebleeding rate, variceal recurrence, and mortality to those receiving EVL biweekly for secondary prophylaxis of variceal bleeding; however, the monthly interval was associated with fewer post-EVL ulcers found at follow-up endoscopies.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01809535.