Seventeen patients bleeding from oesophageal varices were treated by continuous infusion of vasopressin through a catheter inserted percutaneously and positioned in the superior mesenteric artery and in two other patients catheterization proved technically impossible. Bleeding was completely controlled on only four out of 18 occasions in the 17 patients treated. In seven patients, bleeding was controlled for two or more days but then recurred although the infusion was continued with an increased dose of vasopressin. There was a high incidence of complications, including bleeding from the site of catheter insertion in the groin and septicaemias. Sengstaken balloon tamponade and oesophageal transection had to be used to control bleeding in some patients but only six out of 17 survived to leave hospital.
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