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Gastroenterology. 2002 Jul;123(1):17-23.

Erythromycin intravenous bolus infusion in acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding: a randomized, controlled, double-blind trial.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Geneva University Hospitals, Genève, Switzerland.

Erratum in

  • Gastroenterology 2002 Dec;123(6):2162.



Emergency endoscopy may be difficult in upper gastrointestinal bleeding when blood obscures the visibility. Erythromycin, a motilin agonist, induces gastric emptying. We investigated whether an intravenous bolus infusion of erythromycin would improve the yield of endoscopy in these patients.


Patients admitted within 12 hours after hematemesis were randomly assigned to erythromycin (250 mg) or placebo, 20 minutes before endoscopy. The primary end point was endoscopic yield, as assessed by objective and subjective scoring systems and endoscopic duration. Secondary end points were the need for a second look, endoscopy-related complications, blood units transfused, and length of hospital stay.


Fifty-one patients received erythromycin and 54 received placebo. A clear stomach was found more often in the erythromycin group (82% vs. 33%; P < 0.001). This difference remained significant in patients with cirrhosis. Erythromycin shortened the endoscopic duration (13.7 vs. 16.4 minutes in the placebo group; P = 0.036) and reduced the need for second-look endoscopy (6 vs. 17 cases; P = 0.018). Length of hospital stay and blood units transfused did not significantly differ between the 2 groups. No complications were noted.


Erythromycin infusion before endoscopy in patients with recent hematemesis makes endoscopy shorter and easier, thereby reducing the need for a repeat procedure.

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