How is upper gastrointestinal bleeding (UGIB) caused by Mallory-Weiss syndrome treated?

Updated: Sep 01, 2021
  • Author: Bennie Ray Upchurch, III, MD, FACP, AGAF, FACG, FASGE; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Distinguishing Mallory-Weiss syndrome from Boerhaave syndrome is critical. Although both entities share a common pathogenesis, their management is completely different.

Boerhaave syndrome represents a full-thickness transmural laceration with perforation of the esophagus. A Gastrografin swallow helps to confirm the presence of the perforation in most cases, and prompt surgical intervention is necessary to prevent mediastinitis and sepsis.

However, surgical intervention in Mallory-Weiss syndrome is required to achieve hemostasis in only 10% of cases. [23] The bleeding from a Mallory-Weiss tear spontaneously ceases in over 80% of patients by the time endoscopy is performed. [23, 22]

For patients in whom bleeding is visualized at endoscopy, the endoscopic treatment options are electrocoagulation, heater-probe application, hemoclips, epinephrine injection, or sclerotherapy.

In a series published by Bataller et al, hemostasis was achieved in 100% of patients with Mallory-Weiss tears by using endoscopic sclerotherapy with epinephrine (1:10,000) and 1% polidocanol. Other nonoperative therapies are reserved for cases in which endoscopic attempts at creating hemostasis have failed.

Other available options are angiographic intra-arterial infusion of vasopressin and transcatheter embolization of branches of the left gastric artery using Gelfoam. Avoid the balloon tamponade technique using the Sengstaken-Blakemore tube in this particular circumstance, because this apparatus may extend the mucosal laceration into a transmural laceration with perforation. [23]

Surgical intervention is indicated in patients with continued bleeding after failed attempts at nonoperative therapies.

Bleeding from the gastroesophageal junction is visualized through an anterior gastrotomy. Once the tear is localized, the bleeding is controlled by oversewing the lesion.

The overall mortality rates for patients who require emergent surgery is 15%-25%, in contrast to a mortality of 3% or less for patients whose bleeding stops by the time of the initial endoscopy. [23]

See Mallory-Weiss Tear for more information on this topic.

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