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Vagotomy/Drainage Is Superior to Local Oversew in Patients Who Require Emergency Surgery for Bleeding Peptic Ulcers

Schroder, Vanessa T. MD*; Pappas, Theodore N. MD*; Vaslef, Steven N. MD, PhD*; De La Fuente, Sebastian G. MD; Scarborough, John E. MD*

doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000000386
Original Articles

Objective: To compare early postoperative outcomes of patients undergoing different types of emergency procedures for bleeding or perforated gastroduodenal ulcers.

Background: Although definitive acid-reducing procedures are being used less frequently during emergency ulcer surgery, there is little published data to support this change in practice.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of data for patients from the 2005–2011 American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database who underwent emergency operation for bleeding or perforated peptic ulcer disease was performed to determine the association between surgical approach (local procedure alone, vagotomy/drainage, or vagotomy/gastric resection) and 30-day postoperative outcomes. Multivariable regression analysis was used to adjust for a number of patient-related factors.

Results: A total of 3611 patients undergoing emergency ulcer surgery (775 for bleeding, 2374 for perforation) were included for data analysis. Compared with patients undergoing local procedures alone, vagotomy/gastric resection was associated with significantly greater postoperative morbidity when performed for either ulcer perforation or bleeding. For patients with perforated ulcers, vagotomy/drainage produced similar outcomes as local procedures but required a significantly greater length of postoperative hospitalization. Conversely, vagotomy/drainage was associated with a significantly lower postoperative mortality rate than local ulcer oversew when performed for bleeding ulcers.

Conclusions: Simple repair is the procedure of choice for patients requiring emergency surgery for perforated peptic ulcer disease. For patients requiring emergency operation for intractable ulcer bleeding, vagotomy/drainage is associated with lower postoperative mortality than with simple ulcer oversew.

Retrospective analysis of data from American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program suggests that local repair alone is the preferred surgical approach for perforated peptic ulcer disease but that vagotomy/drainage may result in lower postoperative mortality than local ulcer oversew for patients who require emergency operation for intractable ulcer bleeding.

*Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC

Department of Surgery, University of Central Florida, Orlando.

Reprints: John E. Scarborough, MD, Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, DUMC 2837, Durham, NC 27710. E-mail:

Disclosure: There are no conflicts of interest for any of the authors, and there was no funding source.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.