In September 1982, a prospective randomized trial comparing shunt surgery and endoscopic sclerotherapy for the elective management of variceal hemorrhage in patients with cirrhosis was initiated. Twenty-seven patients have received shunt (distal splenorenal = 23, nonselective = 4) and 30 patients have had chronic sclerotherapy. Eighty-six per cent of patients had alcoholic cirrhosis and 33% were Child's class C. After a mean follow-up of 25 months, 19% of shunt and 57% of sclerotherapy patients have had rebleeding (p = 0.003). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis reveals similar 2-year survival rates for shunt (65%) and sclerotherapy (61%) groups. Only two of 10 sclerotherapy failures have been salvaged by surgery. Posttherapy quantitative hepatic function, frequency of encephalopathy, and cumulative medical costs were similar for both groups. Hepatic portal perfusion and portal pressure at 1 year were better maintained by sclerotherapy than by distal splenorenal shunt. In conclusion, endoscopic sclerotherapy and shunt surgery provide similar results with respect to survival, hepatic function, frequency of encephalopathy, and costs. Sclerotherapy is an acceptable, but not superior, alternative to shunt surgery for treatment of variceal hemorrhage.
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