Avariety of treatments are available for bleeding esophageal varices. Treatments include pharmacologic (propanolol, somatostatin, octreotide, vasopressin, and nitroglycerin), endoscopic (injection sclerotherapy and banding), vascular (transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt), surgical (portovariceal disconnection and portosystemic shunts), and tamponade (via use of the Minnesota tube). This article will focus on use and care of the Minnesota tube, including numerous suggestions from the literature.
Tamponade for treatment of esophageal varices may be accompanied by numerous complications, some of which are major or lethal. For this reason, extreme caution should be used when implementing this method. While hemostasis is not achievable via tamponade in 8–50% of patients and 50% of patients rebleed, use of tamponade may achieve stabilization of a patient so that sclerotherapy or surgery becomes a treatment option.