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Agents which decrease gastric mucosal blood flow (GMBF) are postulated to have beneficial effects in arresting gastrointestinal bleeding in cirrhotic patients with portal hypertension. Our objective was to test the hypothesis that in a dose that significantly lowers wedged hepatic venous pressure (WHVP), a bolus injection of somatostatin will significantly decrease GMBF in patients with portal hypertensive gastropathy (PHG). In this placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study, 20 cirrhotic patients with PHG were randomly assigned to receive either somatostatin followed by placebo (Group A) or placebo followed by somatostatin (Group B). Wedged hepatic venous pressure was monitored. GMBF in the antrum and corpus was assessed by reflectance spectrophotometry. Indices of hemoglobin concentration (IHb) and indices of oxygen content (ISO2) were recorded. Nine patients were assigned to Group A, and 11 to Group B. Mild PHG was seen in 16 patients, and severe PHG in 4 patients. Baseline WHVP, IHb, and ISO2 were similar in both treatment groups. Wedged hepatic venous pressure (WHVP) was significantly lowered [median, 17.6%; interquartile range (-27.0,-12.6%); P = 0.0008] after a 250-microg bolus injection of somatostatin. This dose of somatostatin significantly reduced IHb both in the antrum [-10.2% (-23.4, 0.4%)] and in the corpus [-5.8% (-16.6, 5.6%)] compared to placebo (P = 0.02 and 0.04, respectively). Intravenous bolus injection of 250 microg somatostatin significantly reduces WHVP and GMBF in patients with PHG. Whether this ability to decrease the GMBF in PHG makes somatostatin an effective treatment in acute gastrointestinal bleeding in PHG deserves to be studied.

Original publication




Journal article


Dig Dis Sci

Publication Date





2440 - 2446


Aged, Cross-Over Studies, Double-Blind Method, Female, Gastric Mucosa, Hemodynamics, Hepatic Veins, Humans, Hypertension, Portal, Liver Cirrhosis, Male, Middle Aged, Regional Blood Flow, Somatostatin, Stomach Diseases, Venous Pressure