Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology vol:15 issue:8 pages:842-848
Patients with oesophageal varices run a high risk of bleeding and even death, however rates of bleeding and mortality vary greatly. Indeed, a number of patients with varices never bleed. Prophylactic therapy is effective, but can be associated with side-effects. It remains to be determined which patients are at high risk of bleeding and require treatment. In addition, since non-response to medical therapy has been reported to occur in 20-40% of patients, the effect of a given prophylactic drug, or combinations of drugs, needs to be tested. A review is given of available methods of assessment. The Hepatic Venous Pressure Gradient, and measurements of the variceal pressure, are two proven methods, and the latter has the advantages of being non-invasive and having value in presinusoidal portal hypertension.