To assess whether Valsalva's manoeuvre might cause variceal bleeding, 22 patients with oesophageal varices were studied. In 12 patients who received no previous treatment to their varices the median pressure gradient across the varix wall at rest was 19 (6-36) mmHg, and in 10 patients whose varices were thrombosed at their distal end the median pressure gradient in the proximal patent varix was 8 (1-6) mmHg. In untreated patients groups, the pressure gradient rose by 6-12 mmHg during Valsalva's manoeuvre in four patients, fell by 4-11 mmHg in five patients and was virtually unchanged in the remainder. These changes seem unlikely to cause variceal bleeding. Patients who repeated Valsalva's manoeuvre showed similar changes on each occasion. Six patients in the untreated group also received hyoscinbutylbromide 20 mg iv. No change was seen in the pressure gradient in five patients, suggesting that it is of little value in preventing variceal bleeding.
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