Management of patients with ulcer bleeding

Am J Gastroenterol. 2012 Mar;107(3):345-60; quiz 361. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2011.480. Epub 2012 Feb 7.


This guideline presents recommendations for the step-wise management of patients with overt upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Hemodynamic status is first assessed, and resuscitation initiated as needed. Patients are risk-stratified based on features such as hemodynamic status, comorbidities, age, and laboratory tests. Pre-endoscopic erythromycin is considered to increase diagnostic yield at first endoscopy. Pre-endoscopic proton pump inhibitor (PPI) may be considered to decrease the need for endoscopic therapy but does not improve clinical outcomes. Upper endoscopy is generally performed within 24h. The endoscopic features of ulcers direct further management. Patients with active bleeding or non-bleeding visible vessels receive endoscopic therapy (e.g., bipolar electrocoagulation, heater probe, sclerosant, clips) and those with an adherent clot may receive endoscopic therapy; these patients then receive intravenous PPI with a bolus followed by continuous infusion. Patients with flat spots or clean-based ulcers do not require endoscopic therapy or intensive PPI therapy. Recurrent bleeding after endoscopic therapy is treated with a second endoscopic treatment; if bleeding persists or recurs, treatment with surgery or interventional radiology is undertaken. Prevention of recurrent bleeding is based on the etiology of the bleeding ulcer. H. pylori is eradicated and after cure is documented anti-ulcer therapy is generally not given. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are stopped; if they must be resumed low-dose COX-2-selective NSAID plus PPI is used. Patients with established cardiovascular disease who require aspirin should start PPI and generally re-institute aspirin soon after bleeding ceases (within 7 days and ideally 1-3 days). Patients with idiopathic ulcers receive long-term anti-ulcer therapy.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Transfusion
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal
  • Erythromycin / therapeutic use
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Gastric Lavage
  • Hemostasis, Endoscopic / methods*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Patient Selection
  • Peptic Ulcer Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Peptic Ulcer Hemorrhage / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Resuscitation / methods
  • Retreatment
  • Risk Assessment
  • Secondary Prevention


  • Proton Pump Inhibitors
  • Erythromycin