Prevention of gastrointestinal bleeding due to stress ulceration: a review of current literature
Our objective was to audit our current stress ulcer prophylaxis protocol (routine prescription of ranitidine and early enteral feeding) by identifying whether routine prescription of histamine-2 receptor antagonists or proton pump inhibitors as prophylaxis against stress-related mucosal disease and subsequent upper gastrointestinal bleeding is supported in the literature. We also aimed to ascertain what literature evidence supports the role of early enteral feeding as an adjunctive prophylactic therapy, as well as to search for burn-patient specific evidence, since burn patients are at high risk for developing this condition, with the aim of changing our practice.
PubMed and Cochrane databases were searched for relevant articles, yielding seven randomised controlled trials comparing histamine-2 receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors in the prevention of upper gastrointestinal bleeding associated with stress-related mucosal disease and three separate meta-analyses.
Despite level 1 clinical evidence, no significant difference in efficacy between histamine-2 receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitor treatment groups was demonstrated. No significant difference was demonstrated in the incidence of nosocomial pneumonia between the two drugs given in this indication. However, enteral feeding was found to be safe and effective in preventing clinically significant upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Patients able to tolerate feeds demonstrated no additional benefit with concomitant pharmacological prophylactic therapy.
Since all burn patients at the Royal Adelaide Hospital are fed from very early in their admission, the literature suggests that we, like our intensive care unit colleagues, should abolish our reliance on pharmacological prophylaxis, the routine prescription of which is not supported by the evidence.