What is the role of surgery in the treatment of stress ulcer-related upper gastrointestinal bleeding (UGIB)?

Updated: Sep 01, 2021
  • Author: Bennie Ray Upchurch, III, MD, FACP, AGAF, FACG, FASGE; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Surgical intervention becomes necessary if nonoperative therapy fails and blood loss continues. The goals of operative treatment are to control bleeding and to reduce recurrent bleeding and mortality. These patients are at extremely high risk, and the most expeditious procedure is the best option.

Simply oversewing an actively bleeding erosion is sometimes effective enough to control the bleeding. In the setting of life-threatening hemorrhage not amenable to endoscopic control, gastric resection with or without vagotomy with reconstruction may be necessary.

The type of gastric resection depends on the location of the gastric erosions, ie, whether they are proximal or distal. The options are antrectomy and subtotal, near total, or total gastrectomy. Operative mortality rates range from 4% to 17%. [135] The choice of the initial operation must be made with an understanding of the patient's condition, the amount and location of gastric disease, and an accurate assessment of one's technical ability to rapidly and safely perform a gastric resection. The trend has been to perform less surgery in general and to minimalize the type of surgical procedure performed. [136]

Managing the underlying insult causing the gastric stress ulcerations is also important. This involves supportive measures to maintain acceptable hemodynamic parameters, to provide adequate nutritional support in the critically ill patient, and to treat sepsis (if present).

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