Esophageal variceal sclerotherapy has been enthusiastically accepted as the procedure of choice for patients with variceal hemorrhage. Because the relationships among liver function, different causes of varices, survival, and rebleeding rates have not been well established in sclerotherapy trials, this enthusiasm may be unjustified. We studied these relationships in 80 patients with bleeding esophageal varices who were admitted to hospitals affiliated with our clinic between 1978 and 1980 and who did not receive sclerotherapy and in 162 patients admitted between 1980 and 1982 who received sclerotherapy with ethanolamine oleate. In both groups of patients, survival and bleeding-free intervals were significantly related (P<0.005 and P<0.01, respectively) to hepatic reserve (Child's class). In addition, patients with nonalcohol-related liver disease and poor hepatic reserve (Child's class C) had reduced survival and bleeding-free intervals compared with patients in class C with alcohol-related liver disease. Similar probabilities of survival and bleeding-free intervals were noted for Child's class subgroups and etiologic subgroups in the sclerotherapy and nonsclerotherapy groups, although a formal comparison was not made because of the retrospective nature of this study. Indications that sclerotherapy increases survival and reduces rebleeding may be due to different distributions of Child's classes and causes of varices within sclerotherapy and nonsclerotherapy groups in published control trials.
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