An 8-year prospective experience with balloon tamponade in emergency control of bleeding esophageal varices
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The use of balloon tamponade in the emergency control of bleeding from esophageal varices is controversial. This paper reports a prospective study over an 8-year period in which balloon tamponade has been the sole means employed for the early control of bleeding varices. During 1972–1980 all patients referred to Prince Henry's Hospital with upper gastrointestinal bleeding were admitted to a special unit. Ninety-one had bleeding esophageal varices, and 17 were admitted on one or more occasions for bleeding for a total of 132 admissions. After early endoscopy, balloon tamponade was used during 103 of these admissions with failure to control bleeding on six occasions; five of these patients died from hemorrhage and the sixth recovered after emergency portacaval shunt. Another patient died from rebleeding not treated by tamponade. Reinsertion of the balloon for rebleeding was necessary on 28 occasions with successful control in all cases. Balloon tamponade was not used during 29 admissions because bleeding had ceased or the patient was considered to have terminal liver disease. In this group there were four deaths from severe liver disease and hemorrhage. Balloon tamponade was used in 78% of admissions and controlled bleeding in more than 90% of patients. This suggests that tamponade may be the method of choice for early control of bleeding from esophageal varices.
KeywordsLiver Disease Gastrointestinal Bleeding Esophageal Varix Severe Liver Special Unit
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