Limited data exist on long-term outcomes of patients with compensated cirrhosis presenting with acute variceal bleeding (AVB) as an index and lone decompensating event. This study aimed to evaluate the incidence of further decompensation, survival, and risk factors of mortality in these patients.
Patients with otherwise compensated cirrhosis presenting with AVB as their index decompensating event (n = 463) were analyzed in this single-center retrospective study. The incidence of individual decompensation events and survival was estimated using competing risk analysis. Risk factors for poor outcomes were identified.
The mean age was 47.4 (13.2) years, with most patients (86.5%) being males. Alcohol-related liver disease (42.3%) and viral cirrhosis (22.4%) were the main etiologies with a median Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score of 14 (11–15) at baseline. Over a median follow-up of 42 (24–62) months, 292 patients experienced further decompensations: ascites (n = 283; 96.9%), rebleeding (n = 157; 53.8%), and hepatic encephalopathy (n = 71; 24.3%). Most events occurred with similar frequency across different etiologies, except acute-on-chronic liver failure, which was more common in nonviral cirrhosis (Gray test, P = 0.042). Patients with viral and nonviral cirrhosis had similar survival (5-year survival: 91% and 80.1%, respectively; P = 0.062). Patients with early further decompensations (onset <6 weeks of index AVB event) (n = 40) had a higher mortality (52.5% vs 20.2% for late decompensations; P < 0.001). Active alcohol consumption (hazard ratio [HR]: 9 [5.31–15.3], P < 0.001), high white blood cell count at presentation (HR: 2.5 [1.4–4.4], P = 0.001), and early decompensation (HR: 6.2 [3.6–10.6], P < 0.001) predicted poor survival.
Despite a high incidence of further decompensation, 5-year survival of patients at this stage of cirrhosis is more than 80% across all etiologies in the absence of early further decompensation and active alcohol consumption.