Indexed on: 01 Jul '15Published on: 01 Jul '15Published in: Current gastroenterology reports
Esophageal varices in children with portal hypertension are quite common. Bleeding from these varices frequently occurs. Prophylactic measures to prevent such bleeding can be undertaken either before ("primary," prompted by a screening endoscopy) or after ("secondary") an initial variceal bleed. There are no clear pediatric guidelines for primary or secondary prophylaxis of esophageal varices. Adult studies clearly support the use of pharmacologic (beta blockers) and endoscopic (endoscopic band ligation, EBL) management for both primary and secondary prophylaxis of esophageal varices in patients with portal hypertension. Pediatric studies are limited. There are inadequate data to recommend use of beta blockers to prevent variceal bleeding or rebleeding in children with portal hypertension. There is very limited support for EBL for primary prophylaxis in children and more compelling support for EBL for secondary prophylaxis. Further randomized controlled studies are needed but are difficult to implement in this vulnerable population.