Clinically Significant Gastrointestinal Bleeding in Critically Ill Patients in an Era of Prophylaxis

Pimentel, Mark; Roberts, Daniel E.; Bernstein, Charles N.; Hoppensach, Michael; Duerksen, Donald R.
October 2000
American Journal of Gastroenterology;Oct2000, Vol. 95 Issue 10, p2801
Academic Journal
OBJECTIVE: Clinical studies examining stress-related gastro-intestinal bleeding in critically ill patients vary in their clinical definitions and assessment of clinical significance. Although there is evidence that routine prophylaxis decreases stress-related gastrointestinal bleeding, recent studies indicate a decreasing incidence, independent of the use of prophylactic medications. The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of and risk factors for clinically significant, endoscopically proven gastrointestinal bleeding in critically ill patients. METHODS: A database (prospectively collected data) of 8338 patients admitted to the surgical and medical intensive care units at major tertiary care center from July 1988 to April 1995 was examined. All patients with significant upper gastrointestinal bleeding as defined by a drop in hemoglobin of >20 g/L and endoscopic evidence of an upper GI tract source were identified. Risk factors for GI bleeding from stress ulceration were compared in bleeding and nonbleeding patients. A case-control study analyzing risk factors for bleeding in the abdominal aortic aneurysm subgroup was performed. RESULTS: After exclusion criteria, 12/7231 (0.17%) patients had clinically significant, endoscopically proven bleeding. Significant risk factors included age, septic shock, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, and nutritional support. Intensive care unit stay was prolonged in patients with stress-related bleeding. There was no difference in incidence of hypotension, clamp time, APACHE score, or operating room time in patients with abdominal aortic aneurysm repair as compared with controls. CONCLUSIONS: In an intensive care unit where stress prophylaxis is widely used, clinically important gastrointestinal bleeding is uncommon. Further study is needed to define the optimal prophylaxis regimen and the role for its selective use in high-risk patients.


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