Which patients with primary biliary cirrhosis or primary sclerosing cholangitis should undergo endoscopic screening for oesophageal varices detection?

Bressler, B.; Pinto, R.; El-Ashry, D.; Heathcote, E. J.
March 2005
Gut;Mar2005, Vol. 54 Issue 3, p407
Academic Journal
Background: Recent guidelines from an AASLD Single Topic Symposium suggest that patients with cirrhosis, including those with primary biliary cirrhosis (PSC) or primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), should be screened for oesophageal varices when the platelet count is <140 000/mm³. Aim: To determine the validity of these guidelines in clinical practice in patients with PBC or PSC. Methods: Retrospective review of individuals undergoing screening upper endoscopy for oesophageal varices at a single centre. Oesophageal varices were reported as being present or absent. Results: A total of 235 patients with chronic liver disease, including 86 patients with PBC (n = 79) or PSC (n = 7), 104 patients with chronic viral hepatitis, and 45 with non-alcoholic cirrhosis of differing aetiologies, underwent a single screening endoscopy between 1996 and 2001. Oesophageal varices were detected in 26 (30%) of the PBC/PSC group, 38 (37%) of the viral hepatitis group, and 21 (47%) of the "other" group. Applying multiple logistic regression analysis to the data in the group with PBC/PSC, platelets <200 000/mm³ (odds ratio (OR) 5.85 (95% confidence interval (Cl) 1.79-19.23)), albumin <40 g/l (OR 6.02 (95% CI 1.78-20.41)), and serum bilirubin >20 μmol/l (OR 3.66 (95% Cl 1.07- 12.47)) were shown to be independent risk factors for oesophageal varices. Prothrombin time was unhelpful. The values at these cut offs were not useful in predicting oesophageal varices in the other groups. Conclusion: We conclude that current guidelines recommended by the AASLD Single Topic symposium are invalid in our cohort of patients with PBC and PSC. Patients with a platelet count <200 000/mm³, an albumin level <40 g/I, and a bilirubin level >20 μmol/l should be screened for oesophageal varices.


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