Background and study aims: Unsedated endoscopy with ultrathin endoscopes has been shown to be an alternative to conventional endoscopy. This technique would appear to be an ideal way to screen for varices, but there is scant data for unsedated endoscopy in patients with cirrhosis. The aims of this pilot study were to evaluate whether unsedated endoscopy can be used to screen for varices and to determine how well it is tolerated in patients with hepatic dysfunction. Patients and methods: We prospectively evaluated unsedated esophagoscopy in 15 patients with cirrhosis who were candidates for beta-adrenergic-antagonist therapy. Patients with cirrhosis without gastrointestinal bleeding or contraindications to beta-adrenergic-antagonist therapy gave consent to the procedure. The presence and size of varices and the procedure time were recorded. After the procedure, patients tolerance, as gauged by questionnaire and willingness to repeat, was assessed. Results: All patients tolerated the procedure without significant discomport. The mean time of the procedure was 2 minutes. Esophageal varices were found in nine of 15 patients. Of these, one patient with Child-Pugh class C cirrhosis had large varices and was started on propranolol. Conclusions: Unsedated esophagoscopy in patients with cirrhosis appears to be well tolerated. Given both potential safety and cost benefits over conventional endoscopy, this could be a useful method for screening for varices. A randomized trial comparing this method with standard endoscopy is warranted.
ASJC Scopus subject areas