OBJECTIVE: Screening for varices has been recommended in patients with cirrhosis to prevent variceal hemorrhage (primary prophylaxis). In addition, therapy is recommended after the initial episode of variceal bleeding to prevent recurrence (secondary prophylaxis). However, the degree of adherence to these recommendations remains unclear. The purpose of our study was to determine whether these recommendations are being followed in patients presenting for evaluation of orthotopic liver transplantation. METHODS: One hundred twenty-five patients referred for liver transplantation were evaluated. Data regarding demographics, clinical information, relevant time intervals (diagnosis of cirrhosis to screening, screening to initial variceal bleeding, variceal bleeding to referral, diagnosis of cirrhosis to referral), screening strategies used, and implementation of primary or secondary prophylaxis was obtained. The differences among quantitative variables were analyzed with Student's t test. Qualitative variables were evaluated with the Mantel-Haenzel χ2 test or Fisher's exact test. Statistical significance was designated at p < 0.05. RESULTS: Our study found that 46% of patients presenting for evaluation of liver transplantation had screening endoscopy or radiological studies to detect the presence of varices. On the contrary, secondary prophylaxis was performed in all patients with a prior history of variceal hemorrhage. Screening for varices displayed no regional differences. CONCLUSIONS: In our cohort, screening for varices is not being consistently performed, thus delaying the timely implementation of primary prophylaxis. Therefore, the adherence to currently available practice guidelines and the education of physicians to implement screening in this patient population is an important goal.
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