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World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Mar 21;18(11):1159-65. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.11.1159.

Management of non-variceal upper gastrointestinal tract hemorrhage: controversies and areas of uncertainty.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, United States.


Upper gastrointestinal tract hemorrhage (UGIH) remains a common presentation requiring urgent evaluation and treatment. Accurate assessment, appropriate intervention and apt clinical skills are needed for proper management from time of presentation to discharge. The advent of pharmacologic acid suppression, endoscopic hemostatic techniques, and recognition of Helicobacter pylori as an etiologic agent in peptic ulcer disease (PUD) has revolutionized the treatment of UGIH. Despite this, acute UGIH still carries considerable rates of morbidity and mortality. This review aims to discuss current areas of uncertainty and controversy in the management of UGIH. Neoadjuvant proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy has become standard empiric treatment for UGIH given that PUD is the leading cause of non-variceal UGIH, and PPIs are extremely effective at promoting ulcer healing. However, neoadjuvant PPI administration has not been shown to affect hard clinical outcomes such as rebleeding or mortality. The optimal timing of upper endoscopy in UGIH is often debated. Upon completion of volume resuscitation and hemodynamic stabilization, upper endoscopy should be performed within 24 h in all patients with evidence of UGIH for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. With rising healthcare cost paramount in today's medical landscape, the ability to appropriately triage UGIH patients is of increasing value. Upper endoscopy in conjunction with the clinical scenario allows for accurate decision making concerning early discharge home in low-risk lesions or admission for further monitoring and treatment in higher-risk lesions. Concomitant pharmacotherapy with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and antiplatelet agents, such as clopidogrel, has a major impact on the etiology, severity, and potential treatment of UGIH. Long-term PPI use in patients taking chronic NSAIDs or clopidogrel is discussed thoroughly in this review.


Helicobacter pylori; Hemorrhage; Hemostasis; Prokinetic agents; Proton pump inhibitors; Thienopyridines

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