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Am Surg. 2002 Apr;68(4):385-9.

Outcomes from peptic ulcer surgery have not benefited from advances in medical therapy.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, California 90095-6904, USA.


Given the advancements in medical treatment of peptic ulcer disease such as Helicobacter pylori eradication and proton-pump inhibitors, we sought to assess their impact on the need for surgical intervention. Patients who underwent peptic ulcer surgery between 1981 and 1998 were evaluated in a retrospective chart review from a tertiary-care hospital (n = 222). The number of operations performed for peptic ulcers decreased annually (24 vs 11.3). Seventy-seven per cent of all cases were done urgently; most were performed for acute perforated ulcers. The overall 30-day mortality rate was 13 per cent, which remained unchanged over the past two decades. The highest mortality rate (82%) was in the transplanted population (n = 11). Our institutional experience demonstrates that despite the lower volume of patients requiring operative management a greater percentage of these patients are presenting with urgent need for surgery. Also despite the aggressive endoscopic management of acutely bleeding ulcers there was no change in the percentage of patients taken to the operating room for uncontrollable hemorrhage. Improvements in medical management of peptic ulcer disease have decreased the surgical volume; nevertheless we show a rising proportion of urgent operations performed annually, and mortality remains high.

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