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A Journal on Surgery

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Minerva Chirurgica 2006 August;61(4):325-32

language: English

Emergency gastric ulcer complications in elderly. Factors affecting the morbidity and mortality in relation to therapeutic approaches

Di Carlo I., Toro A., Sparatore F., Primo S., Barbagallo F., Di Blasi M.

Department of Surgical Sciences, Organs Transplantation and Advanced Techologies Cannizzaro Hospital University of Catania, Catania, Italy


Aim. In elderly the incidence of the emergency gastric ulcer complications, perforation and bleeding are increasing, with a difficult management of these patients for their concomitant diseases. The aim of this work is to analyze the therapeutical approach of emergency gastric ulcer complications in elderly patients, in order to establish the factors affecting the morbidity and mortality. Methods. Patients older than 70 years, presenting gastric ulcer, observed in a tertiary University Hospital from 1995 to 2003, have been considered for the present study. Two groups of diseases have been examined: ulcer perforation and bleeding ulcer. Age, sex, risk factors, comorbidity, methods of diagnosis, ulcer characteristics, treatment, morbidity, mortality, hospitalization time and follow-up have been considered in each group. Results. Thirteen elderly patients with perforated gastric ulcer have been observed: 9 (69.2%) females and 4 (30.8%) males with a mean age of 80.5 years (range 70-90). Four patients were hospitalized in suburban hospital with an average time between the diagnosis and the surgery of 36 h, while the remnants were hospitalized directly in our Department with a medium waiting time of about 2 h. The surgical procedures were:
simple closure with omentum patch in 11 cases (84.6%), and antrectomy in 2 cases (15.4%), in which the antrum was multiply perforated. Two patients presented an ulcer larger than 2 cm treated with simple suture and omental patch without morbidity and mortality. Three patients (23%) died postoperatively, due to septic shock, ventricular fibrillation and intraoperative massive haemorrhage, 2 of these patients came from other hospitals. Twenty-eight elderly patients with bleeding gastric ulcer have been observed during the same period: 13 (46.4%) females and 15 (53.6%) males with a mean age of 79.6 years (range 71-91). Except 2
patients submitted to endoscopic treatment both with adrenaline injection, all the remnant patients were managed with medical therapy (H2-receptor antagonist or proton pump inhibitors and in 7 patients [24.1%] antihaemorrhage drugs), and clinical observation, with a endoscopic control 3-4 days after from the first endoscopy. One of the 2 patients endoscopically treated developed a ulcer perforation after 11 days, and the other one rebled, without possibility of any kind of treatment due to his instable condition of health. Three patients (10.7%) died during their hospital stay not for causes strictly due to the gastric haemorrhage. Conclusions. Our results suggest that the early diagnoses and early treatment are 2 basic factor on the prognosis of elderly patients with perforated gastric ulcer. The choice between simple closure, with or without vagotomy, or gastrectomy depends from preoperative and operative health conditions of the patient. In patients with ulcer larger than 2 cm, Graham’s technique can be performed safely if the preoperative and intraoperative conditions are favourable. Elderly patients with gastric ulcer bleeding show an high risk of morbidity and mortality, related to the risk factors like non steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) intake or smoke. Repeated endoscopy and antiulcer drugs can manage the high stage patients of Forrest’s classification with a low rate of morbidity and mortality. According to literature surgical treatment should be reserved after the second failure of endoscopic treatment.

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