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Non-variceal Gastrointestinal Bleeding in Patients with Liver Cirrhosis: A Review

Abstract

Background

Non-variceal gastrointestinal (NVGI) bleeding in cirrhosis may be associated with life-threatening complications similar to variceal bleeding.

Aim

To review NVGI bleeding in cirrhosis.

Methods

MEDLINE, Scopus, and ISI Web of Knowledge were searched, using the textwords “portal hypertensive gastropathy,” “gastric vascular ectasia,” “peptic ulcer,” “Dieulafoy’s,” “Mallory–Weiss syndrome,” “portal hypertensive enteropathy,” “portal hypertensive colopathy,” “hemorrhoids,” and “cirrhosis.”

Results

Portal hypertensive gastropathy (PHG) and gastric vascular ectasia (GVE) are gastric lesions that most commonly present as chronic anemia; acute upper GI (UGI) bleeding is a rare manifestation. Management of PHG-related bleeding is mainly pharmacological, whereas endoscopic intervention is favored in GVE-related bleeding. Shunt therapies or more invasive techniques are restricted in refractory cases. Despite its high incidence in cirrhotic patients, peptic ulcer accounts for a relatively small proportion of UGI bleeding in this patient population. However, in contrary to general population, the pathogenetic role of Helicobacter pylori infection remains questionable. Finally, other causes of UGI bleeding include Dieulafoy’s lesion, Mallory–Weiss syndrome, and portal hypertensive enteropathy. The most common non-variceal endoscopic findings reported in patients with lower gastrointestinal bleeding are portal hypertensive colopathy and hemorrhoids. However, the vast majority of studies are case reports and, therefore, the incidence, diagnosis, and risk of bleeding remain undefined. Endoscopic interventions, shunting procedures, and surgical techniques have been described in this setting.

Conclusions

The data on NVGI bleeding in liver cirrhosis are surprisingly scanty. Large, multicenter epidemiological studies are needed to better assess prevalence and incidence and, most importantly, randomized studies should be performed to evaluate the success rates of therapeutic algorithms.

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Kalafateli, M., Triantos, C.K., Nikolopoulou, V. et al. Non-variceal Gastrointestinal Bleeding in Patients with Liver Cirrhosis: A Review. Dig Dis Sci 57, 2743–2754 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10620-012-2229-x

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Keywords

  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage
  • Portal hypertension
  • Review