Background and Study Aims: For several years now there has been an increasingly widespread use of a tissue adhesive in the treatment of bleeding gastric varices to achieve rapid, safe control of hemostasis and prevent rebleeding. In this study we report on our experience with the use of Bucrylate (Hystoacryl) for the treatment of gastric varices over a period of more than a decade. Patients and Methods: Since 1988, 174 cirrhotic patients with actively bleeding gastric varices have been admitted to our department, where they received emergency treatment with injections of Bucrylate. Any associated nonbleeding esophageal varices were subjected to traditional sclerotherapy in combination with the Bucrylate treatment. The gastric varices were subdivided into four distinct groups according to the method advocated by Sarin in 1989. The patients underwent weekly sclerotherapy sessions until their varices were eradicated, and the follow-up with a mean of 36 months (range 9 - 90 months) consisted of endoscopy at 3, 6, and 12 months during the first year and then yearly checks to confirm obliteration of the varices. Results: The hemostasis (97.1 %), early rebleeding (15.5 %), and hospital mortality (19.5 %) rates of the patients with bleeding gastric varices, treated with the tissue adhesive, were very similar to those of patients treated for esophageal varices over the same period (98.1 %, 13.0 %, and 16.4 %, respectively). The most frequent cause of death at 30 days was liver failure (76 % of cases), followed by hemorrhagic shock (8.8 %), and other less frequent causes. Sclerotherapy achieved obliteration rate for gastric varices (70 - 75 %) similar to that for esophageal varices in those patients with portal hypertension due to intrahepatic block (alcoholic and posthepatitis cirrhosis), but a rate of only 32 % in the group of patients with prehepatic block (splenoportomesenteric thrombosis), where surgery proved more effective (69 %). The medium- and long-term survival rates depended on the stability of the patients' liver conditions, on rapid, effective control of variceal hemostasis, and on complete, lasting obliteration of the gastric varices. Conclusions: The use of Bucrylate in emergency sclerotherapy achieved results in bleeding gastric varices on a par with those obtained in esophageal varices in cases of alcoholic and posthepatitis cirrhosis. The group of patients with portal hypertension due to prehepatic block (splenoportal thrombosis) showed no benefit from sclerotherapy in terms of obliteration of gastric varices, but benefited from elective surgery. The choice of the obliterating treatment indicated may be facilitated by classifying gastric varices into distinct groups on the basis of anatomicotopographic criteria.
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