Mortality, Risk Factors and Disparities Associated with Esophageal Variceal Bleeding in Children's Hospitals in the US

J Pediatr. 2021 May:232:176-182. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.12.082. Epub 2021 Jan 12.


Objectives: To use a large administrative database to determine the mortality, risk factors, and comorbidities of esophageal variceal bleeding in children.

Study design: Retrospective cohort study using Pediatric Health Information System data from 50 tertiary children's hospitals in the US. International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes (FY 2020 ICD-10 update and revision 10 of ICD-9) from 2004 through 2019 identified children 18 years and younger with variceal bleeding and complications. Univariate analyses used the Student t -test for continuous variables (age) and the χ2 test for categorical variables (all others). A mixed-effects linear regression was performed for multiple variables.

Results: There were 1902 patients who had 3399 encounters for esophageal variceal bleeding. The mortality rate for variceal bleeding was 7.3%, increasing to 8.8% by 6 weeks; any mortality during the study was 20.1%. Transfusion was required in 54.7% of encounters, and 42.6% were admitted to the intensive care unit. Variceal bleeding encounters were complicated by peptic ulcer disease (6.9%), bacteremia (11.4%), acute renal failure (5.1%), mechanical ventilation (18%), ascites (21.3%), and peritonitis (3.3%). Multivariable mixed-effects logistic regression showed that Black race (OR, 2.59; P < .001) or Hispanic ethnicity (OR, 2.31; P = .001), but not sex, household income, or insurance type, were associated with increased mortality. Bacteremia, peritonitis, mechanical ventilation, acute renal failure, and transfusion were associated with higher mortality (ORs of 2.29, 2.18, 1.93, 6.33, and 1.81, respectively; P < .001, .005, .011, <.001, and .005, respectively).

Conclusions: The 6-week mortality rate for variceal bleeding in children is 8.8%. Black or Hispanic children are at higher risk of dying. Serious morbidities associated with variceal hemorrhage impact mortality. These data can inform consideration of prophylactic or therapeutic interventions for children at risk.

Keywords: chronic liver disease; cirrhosis; pediatrics; portal hypertension; racial disparities.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / complications*
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / ethnology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / mortality
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linear Models
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United States / epidemiology