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Introduction: We evaluated the efficacy of pharmacologic treatments for patients with overt or occult bleeding due to gastrointestinal angiodysplasias (GIADs).

Methods: A systematic computer-aided literature search across Medline, Cochrane, Scopus and Embase databases was performed. Studies evaluating pharmacologic treatments for patients presenting with GIADs-related overt or occult bleeding were included. Post-treatment rebleeding was the primary outcome. Need for red blood cells (RBC) transfusion, post-treatment hemoglobin levels and adverse events rate comprised secondary outcomes. Results are presented as odds ratio (OR), mean difference (MD) or pooled rates (%) with 95% confidence intervals (95%CI).

Results: Four types of pharmacologic treatment were identified (25 studies): somatostatin analogs, hormonal therapy, thalidomide and angiogenesis inhibitors. Pharmacologic treatment of any kind led to significantly reduced bleeding episodes [OR (95% CI), 0.08 (0.04-0.18)]. No pharmacologic treatment was superior to others (P = 0.46). Overall, pooled rebleeding rate post-treatment was 34% (26-43%). Similarly, significantly fewer patients required RBC transfusion during the post-treatment period [0.03 (0.03-0.07)], with no differences among various treatments (P = 0.83), yielding an overall pooled transfusion rate of 33% (19-46%). Administration of pharmacological treatment led to significant improvement in terms of hemoglobin levels [MD (95% CI), 3.21 g/dL (2.42-3.99)]. The pooled rate of adverse events was 32% (22-42%).

Conclusion: In patients with GIADs administration of any pharmacologic treatment significantly decreases rebleeding episodes and transfusions leading to higher hemoglobin values. One-third of them experience at least one adverse event related to the treatment.

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