To assess the efficacy of absolute alcohol as a sclerosant, endoscopic sclerotherapy was carried out using a conventional endoscope and an indigenously designed injector. Forty three patients with portal hypertension who had presented with history of variceal bleeding were included in the study. Portal hypertension was caused by cirrhosis in 30 (69.8%), non-cirrhotic portal fibrosis in eight (18.6%) and extra-hepatic obstruction in five (11.8%). Acute bleeding was successfully controlled in all 11 patients, seven with a fresh bleed and four who rebled while on endoscopic sclerotherapy regimen. All patients with fresh, recent, or old bleeding were treated with a weekly endoscopic sclerotherapy schedule. Reduction in variceal size of two or more grades was achieved in all 20 patients who had completed at least four endoscopic sclerotherapy courses with total eradication of varices in 16 (80%). The mean (+/- SD) number of endoscopic sclerotherapy courses and time required for variceal eradication was 6.06 (+/- 1.87) and 9.1 (+/- 4.69) weeks respectively. None of these patients has shown appearance of fresh varices in a follow up of 18.47 +/- 8.50 weeks (range six to 38 weeks). Six patients died; all deaths were caused by progressive hepatic encephalopathy. Complications usually seen were dysphagia, retrosternal pain and fever; these were mild and easily tolerated by the patients. Rebleeding occurred in four patients who had received less than four endoscopic sclerotherapy courses. Absolute alcohol appears to be an effective, safe, economical, and freely available sclerosant. advocate endoscopic sclerotherapy as the first line of treatment for acute variceal bleeding and recommend a weekly schedule for the early eradication of varices.
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