Multidisciplinary management strategies for acute non‐variceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding. BJS 2014; 101: 34-50.

Published: 26th November 2013

Authors: Y. Lu, R. Loffroy, J. Y. W. Lau, A. Barkun


The modern management of acute non‐variceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding is centred on endoscopy, with recourse to interventional radiology and surgery in refractory cases. The appropriate use of intervention to optimize outcomes is reviewed.


A literature search was undertaken of PubMed and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials between January 1990 and April 2013 using validated search terms (with restrictions) relevant to upper gastrointestinal bleeding.


Appropriate and adequate resuscitation, and risk stratification using validated scores should be initiated at diagnosis. Coagulopathy should be corrected along with blood transfusions, aiming for an international normalized ratio of less than 2·5 to proceed with possible endoscopic haemostasis and a haemoglobin level of 70 g/l (excluding patients with severe bleeding or ischaemia). Prokinetics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can be administered while awaiting endoscopy, although they do not affect rebleeding, surgery or mortality rates. Endoscopic haemostasis using thermal or mechanical therapies alone or in combination with injection should be used in all patients with high‐risk stigmata (Forrest I–IIb) within 24 h of presentation (possibly within 12 h if there is severe bleeding), followed by a 72‐h intravenous infusion of PPI that has been shown to decrease further rebleeding, surgery and mortality. A second attempt at endoscopic haemostasis is generally made in patients with rebleeding. Uncontrolled bleeding should be treated with targeted or empirical transcatheter arterial embolization. Surgical intervention is required in the event of failure of endoscopic and radiological measures. Secondary PPI prophylaxis when indicated and Helicobacter pylori eradication are necessary to decrease recurrent bleeding, keeping in mind the increased false‐negative testing rates in the setting of acute bleeding.


An evidence‐based approach with multidisciplinary collaboration is required to optimize outcomes of patients presenting with acute non‐variceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding.

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