Objectives: Esophageal variceal ligation is a new approach to the treatment of esophageal varices that does not result in transmural tissue injury and inflammation, and therefore might produce fewer sequelae and symptoms than sclerotherapy. We conducted a prospective, randomized comparison of sclerotherapy with ligation to study the relative short-term risks of these two procedures with respect to bacteremia, pulmonary and coagulation function, esophageal motility, and gastroesophageal reflux.
Methods: Patients with previously documented high grade esophageal varices were randomized to receive sclerotherapy or ligation. Blood was drawn for culture and coagulation profiles, and patients underwent pulmonary function tests, esophageal manometry, and intraesophageal pH monitoring before and after treatment.
Results: Six patients with Childs class B cirrhosis and one patient with pre-sinusoidal portal hypertension underwent 20 courses of therapy. Neither sclerotherapy nor ligation produced significant clinical changes in pulmonary or coagulation parameters, or bacteremia requiring treatment. The majority of ligation treatments were without worsening of motility or reflux scores, and none were associated with symptoms. Sclerotherapy was followed by significantly greater esophageal dysmotility and worsening reflux patterns.
Conclusions: Patient acceptance of ligation was much greater than that for sclerotherapy. Our data define the advantages of ligation over sclerotherapy.