The hematocrit level in upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage: safety of endoscopy and outcomes.

Link to article at PubMed

The hematocrit level in upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage: safety of endoscopy and outcomes.

Am J Med. 2011 Oct;124(10):970-6

Authors: Balderas V, Bhore R, Lara LF, Spesivtseva J, Rockey DC

OBJECTIVE: In patients with acute upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage, standard practice is to transfuse packed red blood cells, often to an arbitrary level of hemoglobin or hematocrit (typically 10 g/dL and 30%, respectively) before endoscopy. Therefore, we aimed to determine first whether performing endoscopy in patients with upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage and a low hematocrit is safe and whether it predicts outcomes.
METHODS: This cohort study included patients with carefully defined upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage captured in our gastrointestinal Healthcare Registry who underwent esophagogastroduodenoscopy. Patients were placed into 2 groups: low hematocrit (<30%) or high hematocrit (>30%). Clinical variables and outcomes, including cardiovascular events, intensive care unit transfer, and death, were measured.
RESULTS: A total of 920 patients meeting entry criteria were identified. Baseline features among those with a low and high hematocrit were identical. Eight cardiovascular events occurred during or after esophagogastroduodenoscopy, including 5 of 587 (1%) in the less than 30% hematocrit group and 3 of 333 (1%) in the greater than 30% hematocrit group (P=.29). Blood transfusions were more common in the low hematocrit group (74% vs 24%, P<.001). However, correlation between the amount of blood transfused and hematocrit level was poor, and the number units of blood transfused was highly variable. There was no significant mortality difference in the 2 hematocrit groups.
CONCLUSION: Most patients with upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage presented with a hematocrit less than 30%. Performing endoscopy in patients with a low hematocrit was clearly safe; these data strongly imply that waiting for the hematocrit to reach a certain level before endoscopy is not necessary.

PMID: 21962318 [PubMed - in process]

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