Cutaneous vascular spiders in cirrhotic patients: correlation with hemorrhage from esophageal varices

Am J Gastroenterol. 1988 Jul;83(7):723-6.


Ninety-two consecutive male cirrhotic patients had esophagoscopy to determine the presence and size of varices, and a concomitant skin examination for assessment of cutaneous vascular spiders. Thirty-one subjects bled from varices within 10 days of the spider evaluation, and this group was compared to 61 individuals who never bled. Our results show that incidence of spiders (90%) and varices (91%) is nearly identical, that frequency of variceal bleeding is higher among subjects with spiders compared with those who lack these lesions (36% vs 11%, p less than 0.05), and that the spider profile may be useful to identify individuals who are at increased risk for variceal hemorrhage. Frequency of bleeding was 50% (p less than 0.01) when greater than 20 spiders were present and 63% (p less than 0.01) when multiple atypically located lesions were detected. Large spiders (greater than 15 mm) correlate best with large varices and have the strongest association with bleeding (80%, p = 0.0002). If evidence of benefit from prophylactic treatment of esophageal varices can be established, then elements of the spider profile may serve as a discriminating marker to assist in selection of appropriate patients for therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / complications*
  • Esophagoscopy
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / complications*
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Probability
  • Skin Diseases / complications*
  • Telangiectasis / complications*