The significance of variceal haemorrhage in Ghana: A retrospective review

  • TNA Archampong
  • K Tachi
  • AA Agyei
  • KN Nkrumah
Keywords: gastro-oesophageal, varices, bleeding, gastro- intestinal, Ghana


Background: This study describes the burden of bleeding oesophageal varices at the main tertiary referral centre in Accra.
Design: Retrospective design to describe the endoscopic spectrum and review mortality data following acute upper gastro-intestinal bleeding at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. Endoscopic data was reviewed in the Endoscopy Unit between 2007 and 2010. Mortality data was collated from the Department of Medicine between 2010 and 2013.
Interventions: The study questionnaire compiled clinical and demographic characteristics, endoscopic diagnoses, length of hospital admission and treatment regimens. Main outcome measures: Aetiology and time-trend analysis of mortality rates following acute upper gastro- intestinal bleeding; variceal bleeding treatment modalities.
Results: On review of the endoscopic diagnoses, gastro- oesophageal varices were identified in 21.9% of cases followed by gastritis 21.7%, duodenal ulcer, 17.0%, and gastric ulcer, 13.2%. Gastro-oesophageal varices were the predominant cause of death from acute upper gastro-intestinal haemorrhage from 46% in 2010 to 76% in 2013. Outcomes following acute upper gastro-intestinal bleeding were dismal with some 38% of fatalities occurring within the first 24 hours. Injection sclerotherapy was the dominant endoscopic modality for secondary prevention of variceal bleeding in comparison with band ligation, mainly as a result of cost and availability.
Conclusions: At the tertiary centre in Accra, variceal bleeding is an increasingly common cause of acute upper gastro-intestinal haemorrhage in comparison with previous reviews in Ghana. Its significantly high in-hospital mortality reflects inadequate facilities to deal with this medical emergency. A strategic approach to care with endoscopic services equipped with all the necessary therapeutic interventions will be vital in improving the outcomes of variceal bleeding in Ghana.

Keywords: gastro-oesophageal; varices; bleeding; gastro- intestinal, Ghana.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0016-9560