In order to evaluate the reliability of the endoscopic assessment of variceal features, 6 skilled endoscopists separately examined 28 patients with liver cirrhosis and varices. Definitions of variceal features were set up on the basis of the classification of the Japanese Research Society for Portal Hypertension. A new item, i.e. oesophageal lumen occupancy, and a semiquantitative rating system of endoscopic findings were introduced. Beyond chance agreement (Kappa index) was poor on the assessment of the extension of blue colour (0.33) and prevalence of cherry red spots or red weal marking (0.17) whereas was fair to good (0.40-0.66; P <10-5) on the following: location, size, lumen occupancy, presence of blue colour, presence and extension of red colour sign, haematocystic spot. We conclude that the endoscopic assessment of oesophageal varices based on these features is reliable; their prognostic value as predictors of bleeding risk should be prospectively assessed.
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