Background: Primary measures for preventing morbidity and mortality associated with bleeding gastroesophageal varices in cirrhotic patients include endoscopic screening.
Aim: To identify factors associated with (a) screening and (b) first hospital admission for variceal bleeding among cirrhotic hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients attending specialist care in Scotland.
Methods: The Scottish Hepatitis C Clinical Database was linked to national hospitalisation and deaths records to identify all chronic HCV patients diagnosed with compensated cirrhosis in 2005-2016 (n = 2741). The adjusted odds of being screened by calendar year period were estimated using logistic regression, and the adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of a first variceal bleed using Cox regression.
Results: About 34% were screened within the period starting 12 months before and ending 12 months after cirrhosis diagnosis. The proportion screened was stable in 2005-2010 at 42%, declining to 37% in 2011-2013 and 26% in 2014-2016. Odds of screening were decreased for age-groups <40 (OR = 0.61, 95% CI: 0.48-0.77) and 60+ years (OR = 0.67, 95% CI: 0.48-0.94), history of antiviral therapy (OR = 0.70, 95% CI: 0.55-0.89), and cirrhosis diagnosis in 2014-2015, compared with 2008-2010 (OR = 0.67, 95% CI: 0.52-0.86). Compared with 2008-2010, there was no evidence for an increased/decreased relative risk of a first variceal bleed in any other period, but viral clearance was associated with a lower risk (HR = 0.56, 95% CI: 0.32-0.97).
Conclusions: Overall screening uptake following cirrhosis diagnosis was low, and the decline into the IFN-free therapy era is of concern. The stable bleeding risk over time may be attributable both to ongoing prevention initiatives and to changing diagnostic procedures creating a patient pool with milder disease in more recent years.
- Oesophageal and gastric varices
- hepatitis C virus
- gastrointestinal haemorrhage