Acute upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage.

Link to article at PubMed

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Acute upper gastrointestinal haemorrhage.

Br Med Bull. 2007;83:307-24

Authors: Palmer K

Acute gastrointestinal haemorrhage is a common medical emergency that has a hospital mortality of approximately 10%. Peptic ulcer bleeding, complicating non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin or Helicobacter pylori infection is the most common cause of major bleeding. Gastro-oesophageal varices are less common but managing the underlying liver disease and the severity of bleeding may be demanding. The prognosis of patients presenting with acute bleeding is dictated by the presence of medical co-morbidities and by the severity of liver disease in patients with varices. Validated prognostic scoring systems, based upon the severity of bleeding, diagnosis, endoscopic findings and extent of co-morbidities, predict mortality and have clinical utility. The treatment of non-variceal bleeding is based upon cardiovascular resuscitation followed by endoscopic therapy in patients with active bleeding or major stigmata of recent haemorrhage. Proton pump inhibitor drugs reduce the risk of re-bleeding but have little effect on mortality. Emergency surgery is undertaken for uncontrolled bleeding or re-bleeding that cannot be controlled by further endoscopic therapy. Oesophageal varices are managed by fluid resuscitation, antibiotics and endoscopic band ligation. Vasoactive drugs may stop active bleeding but have no effect upon mortality. Management of the complications of the underlying liver disease and complete variceal ablation in a banding programme are essential. Gastric varices are treated by injection with tissue adhesives or transjugular intrahepatic porto-systemic shunt (TIPSS) insertion. Surgical intervention has little role in the management of varices and patients who do not respond to endoscopic therapies are best treated by TIPSS.

PMID: 17942452 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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