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Evaluation of a protocol for the non-operative management of perforated peptic ulcer

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Background: The non-operative management of perforated peptic ulcer has previously been shown to be both safe and effective although it remains controversial. A protocol for non-operative management was set up in this hospital in 1989. Adherence to the guidelines in the protocol has been audited over a 6-year period with a review of outcome.

Methods: The case-notes of patients with a diagnosis of perforated peptic ulcer were reviewed. Twelve guidelines from the protocol were selected for evaluation of compliance to the protocol.

Results: Forty-nine patients underwent non-operative treatment initially. Eight patients failed to respond and underwent operation. Complications included abscess formation (seven patients), renal failure (one), gastric ileus (one), chest infection (two), and cardiac failure and stroke (one). Four deaths occurred in this group. Adherence to certain protocol guidelines was poor, notably those concerning prevention of thromboembolism, use of antibiotics, use of contrast examination to confirm the diagnosis and referral for follow-up endoscopy. Two gastric cancers were detected on subsequent endoscopy.

Conclusion: This experience demonstrates that non-operative treatment can be used successfully in a general hospital. Adherence to protocol guidelines was found to be variable and the protocol has therefore been simplified. This study highlights the need for an accurate diagnosis and the importance of follow-up endoscopy.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Surgery, North Tees General Hospital, Stockton-on-Tees TS19 8PE, UK

Publication date: January 1, 1999

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