Natural history. Clinical-haemodynamic correlations. Prediction of the risk of bleeding

Baillieres Clin Gastroenterol. 1997 Jun;11(2):243-56. doi: 10.1016/s0950-3528(97)90038-5.


Promoting the development of oesophageal varices and ascites, portal hypertension dominates the clinical course of cirrhosis. Varices appear in patients with portal pressure gradient above 10 mmHg and enlarge in 10-20% within 1-2 years of their detection. Bleeding occurs in patients with portal pressure gradient above 12 mmHg when the wall tension causes the rupture of varices, with an incidence of about 10% per year. Indicators of bleeding risk are portal pressure gradient, variceal pressure, large varices and liver dysfunction. Mortality per bleeding episode is 30-50%. Among survivors 60% will rebleed and 30% will die in the following year. The risk of rebleeding decreases in patients with spontaneous or treatment induced reduction of portal pressure gradient or variceal pressure. Ascites develops in almost all patients along the course of the disease. Median survival after its appearance is less than 2 years. Less than 5% of cirrhotic patients die without ascites or without a previous bleeding. Thus portal hypertension is a major determinant of survival in cirrhosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Chronic Disease
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / complications*
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / etiology
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices / physiopathology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal / complications*
  • Hypertension, Portal / physiopathology*
  • Incidence
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Stomach Diseases / etiology