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Fibreoptic endoscopy and the use of the Sengstaken tube in acute gastrointestinal haemorrhage in patients with portal hypertension and varices.
  1. B H Novis,
  2. P Duys,
  3. G O Barbezat,
  4. J Clain,
  5. S Bank,
  6. J Terblanche


    The value of emergency upper gastrointestinal fibre-endoscopy, followed where required by the use of a modified Sengstaken tube, was studied during 84 episodes of acute bleeding in 75 patients who had evidence of portal hypertension with varices. The portal hypertension was due to alcoholic cirrhosis in 80% and to cryptogenic cirrhosis in 9% of the patients. By definition, varices were present in all patients, but in only 66% of episodes were the varices the cause of the bleed. The correct diagnosis of the source of bleeding was made at endoscopy in 89%. A Boyce modification of the Sengstaken-Blakemore tube was passed in 73% of the episodes of variceal bleeding. It effectively stopped the bleeding primarily in 85% of patients but was successful as a final definitive measure only in 46%. Furthermore, only 40% of the patients in whom the tube was passed, survived. Mortality rate could be related to the severity of the bleed and to hepatocellular dysfunction. Survival increased from 23% in those patients with jaundice, ascites, and encephalopathy on admission to 92% in those without these manifestations. The in-hospital survival rate was 52% in patients bleeding from varices and 64% in those bleeding from other causes, with an overall survival rate of 56%, indicating the poor prognosis in cirrhotic patients with gastrointestinal bleeding, irrespective of the cause.

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