Acute non-variceal bleeding accounts for approximately 20% of all-cause bleeding episodes in patients with liver cirrhosis. It is associated with high morbidity and mortality therefore prompt diagnosis and endoscopic management are crucial.

To evaluate available data on the efficacy of endoscopic treatment modalities used to control acute non-variceal gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) in cirrhotic patients as well as to assess treatment outcomes.

Employing PRISMA methodology, the MEDLINE was searched through PubMed using appropriate MeSH terms. Data are reported in a summative manner and separately for each major non-variceal cause of bleeding.

Overall, 23 studies were identified with a total of 1288 cirrhotic patients of whom 958/1288 underwent endoscopic therapy for acute non-variceal GIB. Peptic ulcer bleeding was the most common cause of acute non-variceal bleeding, followed by portal hypertensive gastropathy, gastric antral vascular ectasia, Mallory-Weiss syndrome, Dieaulafoy lesions, portal hypertensive colopathy, and hemorrhoids. Failure to control bleeding from all-causes of non-variceal GIB accounted for less than 3.5% of cirrhotic patients. Rebleeding (range 2%-25%) and mortality (range 3%-40%) rates varied, presumably due to study heterogeneity. Rebleeding was usually managed endoscopically and salvage therapy using arterial embolisation or surgery was undertaken in very few cases. Mortality was usually associated with liver function deterioration and other organ failure or infections rather than uncontrolled bleeding. Endoscopic treatment-related complications were extremely rare. Lower acute non-variceal bleeding was examined in two studies (197/1288 patients) achieving initial hemostasis in all patients using argon plasma coagulation for portal hypertensive colopathy and endoscopic band ligation or sclerotherapy for bleeding hemorrhoids (rebleeding range 10%-13%). Data on the efficacy of endoscopic therapy of cirrhotic patients vs non-cirrhotic controls with acute GIB are very scarce.

Endotherapy seems to be efficient as a means to control non-variceal hemorrhage in cirrhosis, although published data are very limited, particularly those comparing cirrhotics with non-cirrhotics and those regarding acute bleeding from the lower gastrointestinal tract. Rebleeding and mortality rates appear to be relatively high, although firm conclusions may not be drawn due to study heterogeneity. Hopefully this review may stimulate further research on this subject and help clinicians administer optimal endoscopic therapy for cirrhotic patients.

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