Objectives: To investigate the effect of somatostatin in acute severe bleeding from portal hypertensive gastropathy in 26 cirrhotic patients.
Methods: All patients with signs of acute gastrointestinal bleeding and an upper GI endoscopy (during the first 24 h) indicating overt bleeding from portal hypertensive gastropathy were included in the study. Somatostatin (or the synthetic tetradecapeptide, octreotide) was administered in all cases. Eleven patients received somatostatin and 15 patients received octreotide. An initial injection of 250 microg bolus somatostatin was followed by a continuous infusion of 250 microg/h for 3 days (100 microg and 50 microg/h for octreotide).
Results: Somatostatin arrested bleeding in all 26 patients and in 23 there was no hospital relapse. In the remaining three patients the bleeding recurred each time somatostatin infusion was discontinued and arrested again on reinstitution of treatment. In two there was a control of haemorrhage, while the third required a total gastrectomy after repeated episodes. The rebleeding rate in our study is much lower compared to untreated patients of other series. There were no differences between the somatostatin and octreotide group. There were no significant side effects. Gastroscopy at the end of the therapy showed improvement of the endoscopic appearance.
Conclusions: This open study suggests that somatostatin is a safe and effective treatment of acute severe bleeding from portal hypertensive gastropathy.