In the treatment of gastroesophageal varices, scleroligation – a hybrid procedure that combines sclerotherapy and band ligation – performed as well as did band ligation, but required fewer sessions and had a shorter overall treatment duration. Sclerotherapy involves the injection of sclerosant to prompt occlusion of the varices, while ligation involves banding the varices to cut off blood flow.
The new approach combines them. The researchers ligated the varix 3-5 cm from the gastroesophageal junction and injected the sclerosant into the varix, below the ligated section. They reasoned that ligation should increase the contact time between the sclerosant and endothelial cells, and thus improve efficacy.
He noted that in the United States, band ligation is the standard of therapy, and the new study won’t change that. “These preliminary results from a single center are quite promising, and if they can be confirmed in a larger, multicenter trial, then this is something that can be added to our therapeutic armamentarium,” said Dr. Kwo.
Band ligation replaced sclerotherapy as the preferred treatment for gastroesophageal varices because it has equal efficacy but fewer severe side effects. However, it also suffers from a higher rate of recurrence because the bands cannot destroy deeper varices and perforating veins.
The combination technique, scleroligation, has been demonstrated in the treatment of esophageal varices, which prompted the authors’ investigation into gastroesophageal varices.
At a single center, the researchers recruited 120 patients with cirrhosis and acute gastroesophageal variceal bleeding above the gastroesophageal junction. They were randomized 1:1 to undergo endoscopic band ligation (EBL) or scleroligation (SL).
On average, 15.6 weeks were required to obliterate the varices in the EBL group versus 8.64 weeks in the SL group (P less than .001). The EBL group required an average of 3.43 sessions to reach that endpoint, compared with 2.22 sessions in the SL group (P less than .001). The EBL group required an average of 13.72 bands per patient, compared with 8.88 bands in the SL group (P less than .001). The EBL group also had a higher average number of units of blood transfused (2.30 vs 1.53; P less than .001).
No patients in either group experienced perforation, chest empyema, pericardial effusion, or strictures.
The good safety outcomes may be related to the small volume of sclerosant used, just 2 mL. “It’s probably because of their meticulous approach that they were able to reduce the complications that we have historically seen with sclerotherapy alone,” said Dr. Kwo.
There was no difference in the number of rebleeds or recurrences at follow-up, total cost, mortality due to rebleeding, or 12-month survival.
No funding source was disclosed. The authors reported no financial disclosures.