Octreotide for acute variceal bleeding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To review the use of octreotide for acute variceal bleeding. DATA SOURCES: Articles were obtained through computerized searches involving MEDLINE (from 1997 to October 2000). Additionally, several textbooks containing information on the diagnosis and management of acute variceal bleeding were reviewed. The bibliographies of retrieved publications and textbooks were reviewed for additional references. STUDY SELECTION: All randomized studies and pharmacoeconomic evaluations that used octreotide therapy for acute variceal bleeding were considered. Randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses involving other therapies for treating variceal bleeding were also reviewed for possible inclusion. DATA EXTRACTION: The primary outcomes extracted from the literature were persistent or recurrent bleeding, need for endoscopic intervention or balloon tamponade, and mortality. DATA SYNTHESIS: Although both endoscopic therapies and medications are used to control bleeding and rebleeding episodes, the endoscopic approach has the additional goal of obliterating the varix. Since rebleeding episodes are common as long as the varix is present, endoscopic and medication therapies cannot be considered interchangeable based on bleeding control alone. However, octreotide by continuous intravenous infusion has demonstrated effectiveness in reducing blood loss and transfusion requirements as both an initial intervention (until definitive sclerotherapy can be performed) or as adjunctive therapy to endoscopic measures. Octreotide can be started quickly, has a relatively rapid onset of action, and does not require someone with endoscopy training to initiate. Additionally, octreotide is relatively free of significant adverse effects. CONCLUSIONS: While additional investigations are needed, particularly in the area of pharmacoeconomics, there is substantial evidence that octreotide is an efficacious therapy with relatively few adverse effects when used in the management of acute variceal bleeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-626
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001


  • Acute variceal bleeding
  • Octreotide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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