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Articles  |   December 2000
Acute gastrointestinal bleeding: clinical essentials for the initial evaluation and risk assessment by the primary care physician
Article Information
Gastroenterology
Articles   |   December 2000
Acute gastrointestinal bleeding: clinical essentials for the initial evaluation and risk assessment by the primary care physician
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, December 2000, Vol. 100, 4S-7S. doi:
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, December 2000, Vol. 100, 4S-7S. doi:
Abstract

Acute gastrointestinal bleeding is a common medical emergency that frequently results in hospitalization. Rapid initial assessment of clinical parameters such as estimated volume of blood lost, appearance of expelled blood, hypotension, mental status changes, and coagulopathy should all be evaluated as part of the outcomes prediction equation. For upper gastrointestinal bleeding, early endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract will also provide important information to aid in efforts to predict risk. Endoscopic evidence of ongoing rapid bleeding or the presence of a "visible vessel" or adherent clot on the ulcer base are findings that are associated with a high likelihood of continued bleeding or recurrent bleeding. Endoscopic therapy can reduce the rates of recurrent bleeding, surgery, and length of hospital stay in patient with these "stigmata of recent bleeding." Other endoscopic ulcer appearances such as brown or black pigment in the ulcer base or a clean ulcer base do not require endoscopic therapy, as rates of recurrent bleeding are very low for these lesions. Use of these clinical and endoscopic outcome predictors can also be useful in refining triage decisions as to which patients need to be in the intensive care unit, which need to be admitted to the hospital, and which can have early oral feeding and expedited hospital discharge or outpatient care.