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Ann Emerg Med. 2011 Jun;57(6):582-9. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2011.01.001. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

Erythromycin infusion or gastric lavage for upper gastrointestinal bleeding: a multicenter randomized controlled trial.

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Emergency Department, Saint-Antoine Hospital, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6 University, Paris, France.



The quality of endoscopy depends on the quality of upper gastrointestinal tract preparation. We determine whether in acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding the frequency of satisfactory stomach visualization was different after intravenous erythromycin, a nasogastric tube with gastric lavage, or both.


We performed a prospective, randomized, multicenter (6 emergency departments) study in patients with acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding presenting with hematemesis or melena. The patients were randomized into 3 groups: (1) intravenous erythromycin infusion without nasogastric tube placement (erythromycin group), (2) nasogastric tube placement without erythromycin (nasogastric group), and (3) intravenous erythromycin infusion combined with nasogastric tube placement (nasogastric-erythromycin group). The main outcome measure was the proportion of satisfactory stomach visualization.


Two hundred fifty-three patients (181 men, mean age 61 years [SD 15 years], 84 with cirrhosis) were randomized: 84 (erythromycin group), 85 (nasogastric group), and 84 (nasogastric-erythromycin group). Overall, there was 85% satisfactory stomach visualization; between-group differences were not significant: -4% (95% confidence interval [CI] -15% to 6%) for the erythromycin group and nasogastric-erythromycin group, 2% (95% CI -14% to 9%) for the erythromycin group and nasogastric group, and -6.5% (95% CI -17% to 4%) for the nasogastric group and nasogastric-erythromycin group. The duration of the endoscopic procedure, rebleeding frequency, the need for a second endoscopy, the number of transfused blood units, and mortality at days 2, 7, and 30 did not differ significantly between groups.


In acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding, administration of intravenous erythromycin provides satisfactory endoscopic conditions, without the need for a nasogastric tube and gastric lavage.

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