Objective: To identify and evaluate the quality of evidence supporting prophylactic use of treatments for stress ulcers and upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Stress ulcers, erosions of the stomach and duodenum, and upper gastrointestinal bleeding are well-known complications of critical illness in children admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit.
Data sources: Studies were identified from the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PUBMED; LILACS; Scirus. We also scanned bibliographies of relevant studies.
Study selection: This systematic review of randomized controlled trials assessed the effects of drugs for stress-related ulcers, gastritis, and upper gastrointestinal bleeding in critically ill children admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit.
Data extraction and synthesis: Two reviewers independently extracted the relevant data. Most randomized controlled trials were judged as having unclear risk of bias. When pooling two randomized controlled trials, treatment was significantly more effective in preventing upper gastrointestinal bleeding (macroscopic or important bleeding) compared with no treatment (two studies = 300 participants; relative risk, 0.41; 95% confidence interval, 0.19-0.91; I = 12%). Meta-analysis of two studies found no significant difference in death rates among groups (two randomized controlled trials = 132 participants; relative risk, 1.39; 95% confidence interval, 0.70-2.79; I = 4%). The rate of pneumonia was not significantly different when comparing treatment and no treatment in one study. When comparing ranitidine with no treatment, significant differences were found in the proportion of mechanically ventilated children with normal gastric mucosal endoscopic findings by histologic specimens (one randomized controlled trial = 48 participants; relative risk, 3.53; 95% confidence interval, 1.34-9.29). No significant differences were found when comparing different drugs (omeprazole, ranitidine, sucralfate, famotidine, amalgate), doses, or regimens for main outcomes (deaths, endoscopic findings of erosion or ulcers, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, or pneumonia).
Conclusions: Although pooled data of two studies suggested that critically ill pediatric patients may benefit from receiving prophylactic treatment to prevent upper gastrointestinal bleeding, we found that high-quality evidence to guide clinical practice is still limited.